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O País / Ericino de Salema being removed from an open van vehicle which drove him to hospital, yesterday after he was kidnapped and brutally beaten.
Mozambican journalist Ericino de Salema, who was kidnapped and savagely beaten on Tuesday afternoon, is now out of danger, but has suffered multiple fractures, according to medical sources at the Maputo private health unit where he is currently hospitalised.
The doctors said that Salema has broken bones in his arms and legs and will require surgery.
The spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command, Orlando Mudumane, announced that the police have launched an operation to find and arrest Salema’s kidnappers.
He told reporters on Tuesday that all the forces of the Maputo police and the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) are being deployed “to solve this case, identify those responsible and detain them”.
Madumane said that the kidnapping was carried out by two armed men, who seized Salema outside the headquarters of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), which is located on 24th July Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares running through central Maputo. The criminals threw Salema into a Toyota Camry, with darkened windows, and no number plates.
It is illegal to drive vehicles without number plates, but the Toyota drove across the city, and was not stopped. The kidnappers drove Salema along the Maputo Ring Road to the area of Muntanhane, in Marracuene district. Here they beat him violently with their AK-47 assault rifles.
He may have been saved from a worse fate by the intervention of local residents. According to a report in the independent daily “O Pais”, three children, returning from school, saw the beating. They put the number of men assaulting Salema at three. They informed an adult of what they had seen and he requested help from another resident.
The kidnapers drove off, leaving the severely injured Salema lying on the ground. The Mutanhane residents then took the journalist, his clothes soaked in his own blood, to hospital.
It was hardly a coincidence that the site of the beating was almost exactly the same place where the academic and political commentator Jose Jame Macuane was beaten and shot in the legs by unknown assailants in 2016.
Macuane and Salema have in common that they were both regular guests on the chat show “Pontos de Vista” (“Points of View”) broadcast on Sunday nights by the independent television station STV, and both were often highly critical of government policy.
Mudumane said the police do not yet know the motive for the attack against Salema and declined to make any connection between the kidnapping and Salema’s political views.
“Let us allow the investigation to go forward”, he said. “It is still too early to advance any details. At the due time we can give the results of the investigation”.
— Alexandre Zerinho (@AllexandreMZ) March 28, 2018
— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) March 28, 2018
A wave of anger
A wave of anger spread through Mozambican society as the news of the kidnapping spread. At the opening of Wednesday’s session of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, both Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario and Assembly chairperson Veronica Macamo, condemned the attack.
Carlos Agostinho condena o rapto do jornalista Ericino de Salema e pede esclarecimento do caso – MOZ NEWS https://t.co/xj03Z6MAO1
— Portal Moz News (@MozNews1) March 28, 2018
Macamo urged the police to discover “as soon as possible the moral and material authors of this case, so that they may be severely punished and serve as an example”.
The constitutionally enshrined watchdog on press freedom, the Supreme Mass Media Council (CSCS), on Tuesday evening gave a press conference with the SNJ and the Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) to express their horror and indignation.
All three organisations regarded the kidnapping as an attempt to intimidate Mozambican journalists. “We have come here to express our solidarity with our colleague Ericino de Salema”, said SNJ general secretary Eduardo Constantino, “and to urge the authorities to investigate and take the necessary measures so that the authors of this crime can be held responsible for their acts”.
CSCS chairperson Tomas Vieira Mario said “the perpetrators of this crime acted in broad daylight and on the public highway, which expresses a certain sense of impunity. It expresses the idea that ‘we can do what we like when we like and where we like, and nothing will happen to us’. We are worried at the arrogance of these criminals who believe they cannot be touched”.
The interim chairperson of MISA-Mozambique, Fernando Goncalves, said “this act calls into question fundamental principles established in the Mozambican Constitution which grants freedom of expression to citizens, and freedom of the press to journalists”.
Mozambique journalist & govt critic, Ericino de Salema abducted, beaten up & later found unconscious in Maputo yesterday. pic.twitter.com/FIJIUkuauK
— Povo News (@povonewsafrica) March 28, 2018
Mozambique gov critics better watch out. Prom Mozambican journalist and human rights activist Ericino de Salema abducted from downtown Maputo, beaten to unconsciousness and thrown beside a highway. He had criticised Pres Nyusi’s policies. https://t.co/RWBmDqBOq7 pic.twitter.com/V9TuKg2JP3
— James Hall (@hallaboutafrica) March 28, 2018
Awful news from #Mozambique – Journalist Ericino de Salema snatched in the center of the capital Maputo, beaten and left unconscious on the capital’s ring road. https://t.co/AurX8Ct6Vi pic.twitter.com/YhwvvoTRNM
— Ian Gary (@Ianpgary) March 28, 2018
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