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A journalist from the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique” witnessed policemen striking a corrupt deal with illegal loggers in Morrumbala district, in the central province of Zambezia.
According to Tuesday’s issue of the newssheet, the incident happened on 1 November at about 04.30. The “Carta de Mocambique” team was about to leave Morrumbala town when they overheard an argument between three policemen and the owner of a Scania truck laden with logs of the precious hardwood Umbila.
The truck owner had no documents proving that he was entitled to cut down the trees, much less sell the wood.
Speaking in the local language, Chuabo, the policemen demanded a bribe. “Give us our share, and then you can go”, the newssheet reported them as saying. “Otherwise we shall hand you over to the provincial forestry wardens, and not to the district police commander with whom you deal”.
A few minutes later, the argument ended, after the truck owner had phoned other people. He promised to pay the police the money they asked for, as soon as the buyer had paid for the logs. “Carta de Mocambique” followed the truck to a work yard in the Liberdade neighbourhood of Morrumbala town. The journalists were told that this work yard belonged to a Chinese citizen.
The newssheet’s sources’ said that the illegal trade in timber has become “normal” in Morrumbala, and whenever trucks are seized they are taken to the police command, and then removed at night and driven to the Liberdade work yard.
As the journalists left the town they saw other trucks laden with logs heading to Morrumbala up a steep hill. One was so overloaded that it kept slipping backwards, almost knocking over cyclists and motorcyclists using the road.
If the authorities wish to investigate, “Carta de Mocambique” provided the number plate of the Scania truck – MQB-32-16.
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