Chief of the SA National Defence Force visits SADC Mission in Mozambique
The General Commander of the Mozambican police, Bernadino Rafal, has admitted that he is “greatly concerned” at the wave of kidnappings of wealthy business people who are ransomed for large sums of money.
Speaking on Thursday in the southern city of Matola, where he swore into office the new commander of the Maputo Provincial Police Command, Afonso Miquichone, Rafael said the police had recorded six kidnappings in the first three months of the year, but only one of the victims had been released. So, at least until the end of March, the five other victims remained in the hands of the kidnappers.
Cited in Friday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, Rafael said this situation should concern every member of the police force.
“This is a great challenge”, he said. “We are all aware that we must redouble our efforts to find a solution to this type of crime. I want the entire police to work with the community to denounce the places where kidnap victims are held prisoner”.
He admitted that previous strategies for fighting the kidnap gangs have not worked, and so “other mechanisms” would be needed. He gave no details of what these might be.
“We are working on other ways to prevent and fight against these evils which affect our business community. We are concerned, we can’t sleep”, said Rafael. “We try one solution, and it doesn’t work. We try another, and there’s still nothing. So now we must put all our efforts into fighting this type of crime”.
Rafael stressed above all the need to end police complicity in the kidnapping racket. Repeatedly the involvement of police officers in kidnappings has been denounced in the media, and even by Attorney-General Beatriz Buchili.
Rafael also admitted concern at the rise in armed robberies. He said that between January and March 21 crimes involving the use of firearms had been recorded. He said that some of the guns used came from police units, some from private security companies, while still others were smuggled into the country from South Africa.
Meanwhile civil society groups in the central city of Beira have launched a campaign demanding action against the kidnap gangs. Prominent lawyer Gilberto Correia and environmentalist Carlos Serra Junior launched the campaign when, about a week ago, an 18 year old student, the daughter of a businessman, was kidnapped in broad daylight almost at the entrance to the Beira campus of the Catholic University of Mozambique.