Mozambique: Worshippers clash with police at Maputo church over priest - Lusa report
Photo: Social Media
Unidentified assailants kidnapped a Mozambican businessman of Asian origin in broad daylight on Saturday morning in central Maputo.
According to a report on the independent television station STV, the kidnappers intercepted their victim, Ismael Harron, at about 11.00, near the “Shopping 24” building at the crossroads between 24th July and Salvador Allende venues.
This spot is within a few minutes’ walk of the Maputo City police command and of the Ministry of the Interior. Yet there was no sign of any police in the vicinity.
Harron is not from Maputo. He is one of the owners of the Uzeir Trade Centre in Beira. This suggests that the gang which seized him in Maputo, was in contact with criminals in Beira who had traced his movements.
An eye-witness said Harron was going to a nearby barber’s shop, when he was attacked. There were four kidnappers, the eye-witness said, “and one of them got out of their car, and obliged him to enter. The driver of the kidnapped man tried to resist, but the criminals threatened to open fire”.
The police says they have “activated the lines of investigation to clear up the case as quickly as possible”, according to Leonel Muchina, the spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command.
This kidnapping happened less than a fortnight after the abduction of a 27 year old Portuguese woman, Jessica Pequeno, the daughter of a restaurant owner, in the southern city of Matola. She was released after her family paid a ransom believed to be four million meticais (about 55,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates).
In Beira, in late October, a group of business people went on strike, closing their shops and other establishments for three days, in an attempt to force the authorities to take the wave of kidnapping seriously.
A statement issued by the group said “We are citizens who pay taxes to the state, but, at the same time, in an involuntary and violent way, we pay for the kidnapping industry. We pay the State’s taxes, but we are also obliged to pay huge sums in ransoms to the kidnapping networks and those who protect them. This situation is unsustainable and unacceptable”.
They pointed out that kidnap gangs are thriving “without facing any obstacles and at the cost of the physical, psychological, economic and social destruction of business people, their families and their companies”.
The statement warned that this crime “is gradually destroying the country’s economy”. Because of the kidnappings, “several companies have closed or are about to close. Countless numbers of workers have lost, or will lose, their jobs. Hundreds of Mozambican businessmen have left the country to live abroad. Billions of meticais have ceased to be invested and to circulate in the formal economy, and instead circulate in the economy of organised crime”.
These crimes happen in broad daylight, in streets full of passers-by, the Beira business people said, and “the bold and confident way the kidnappers act show they do not fear that anything might go wrong”.
This group of Beira business people pledged that they will not leave Mozambique, but they demanded that the state comply with its essential duty to protect citizens.