ISSN 2330-717X

Police And Security Must Swiftly Address Rising Kidnapping In Mozambique – OpEd

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Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has called on the police force and security agencies to address swiftly incidences of kidnapping that has been on the rise, and tarnishing the investment climate as well as the image of the country abroad. He further branded as completely unacceptable the transformation of police stations into breeding grounds for kidnappers. 

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While addressing in Maputo the opening ceremony of a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Ministry of the Interior, Nyusi urged the participants to craft concrete solutions to relentlessly fight the evil that has been weakening the collective action of the police, as guardians of the security of Mozambicans as well as of foreigners living in the country. 

“I cannot accept that police stations become nests of kidnappers, and the commander of the station has top responsibility on the matter. If he does not know the life of his staff, he should resign from his post,” Nyusi declared, and added that it was shameful to be the commander of a police station branded by the public as a den of kidnappers. 

Nyusi stressed that there is no development without effective security, and therefore it is extremely important to move on with the professionalization and equipping of the Mozambican police. Success in professionalization and capacity building are the most important conditions for meeting the multiple and changing threats the country has been facing. He also called for strict screening criteria for candidates for jobs in areas covered by the Interior Ministry including criminal investigation, the immigration service, civil identification and the fire brigade. 

“Do not allow the intrusion into the police by individuals with dubious interests, who will only subvert police standards and jeopardize the security of society,” he said. 

The modus operandi of threats such as terrorism, illegal immigration, kidnappings, human and drug trafficking, and other crimes must supply the necessary information that will enable a profound and better response. Nyusi stressed the need to boost institutional capacity to prevent, monitor, foresee and eliminate these evils. 

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Many foreign business people have kidnapped for money. The latest, Bharat Dhanji Tapu (Chavda), an overseas citizen of India (OCI) cardholder, was kidnapped in broad daylight at gunpoint. Chavda owns a car showroom in Mozambique. 

While his Mozambique-based family and friends in Gujarat are worried about his medical condition, the Indian Associations of Mozambique have made a representation before the Indian High Commission on the rise in kidnappings of Indian origins and citizens of India. 

The Times of India reported that fearing such kidnappings, many Gujarati and Indians at large have migrated to Dubai and London. The Government of India (GOI) has friendly relations with the Republic of Mozambique. 

Late last year, Xian Yao, a Chinese businessman, was kidnapped. The kidnappers asked for 25 million meticais for ransom – approximately €338,000. In another case, Kapil Rajasa 31-year-old businessman of Indian origin, was abducted. Rajas was kidnapped at his workplace and took him to a house in the Maputo neighbourhood of Mahotas. The gang demanded that the victim’s family pay a ransom of US$600,000 for his release.

In similar related developments, the Confederation of Business Associations of Mozambique (CTA) has repeatedly called for severe penal frameworks to stop the wave of kidnappings in the main Mozambican cities. 

“It is necessary to introduce, additionally, deep changes to the legal framework, making the respective penal framework severe, without the possibility of paying bail,” said Zuneid Calumias, Vice President of CTA, the largest employers’ organization, at a press conference held in Maputo. “It is also frightening because these crimes occur in the surroundings of police stations, seen as a guarantee of public protection, where criminals have been demonstrating their freedom of action”. 

For Mozambican employers, the growing number of kidnapping cases in the country reveals alarming levels of violence, with an impact on the business environment. The CTA reiterated that it is available to support the state in efforts to curb this type of crime. The business association highlighted the creation, of a Security and Private Protection division within the CTA, which has been interacting with the authorities in the search for solutions to combat kidnapping in the country. 

“The CTA will continue to dialogue tirelessly with the government in search of solutions. It believes it is important to ensure the safety and confidence of investors, as well as the credibility of the country as a privileged destination for investment and tourism,” said Zuneid Calumias, and further reported that CTA y is organizing a study to analyze the economic impact of the wave of kidnappings in Mozambique. 

After a period of relative calm, Mozambican cities, mainly the country’s capital, have again been plagued since 2020 by a wave of kidnappings, targeting mainly businessmen or their relatives. In November 2021, the police launched the formation of a mixed force to respond to this type of crime, a group of officers who will be trained by Rwandan specialists for six months. 

Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa director with the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, also spoke about human rights violations that included frequent kidnappings. Mavhinga says the government needs to take responsibility for its own policy failures. While militants have committed grievous acts – including kidnappings, rapes and – rights groups have also documented abuses by Mozambican security forces, including torture and extrajudicial killings.

In addition to that, for instance, expert discussions via a videoconference held by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) of the United States has called on President Filipe Nyusi to make consistent efforts toward addressing the systemic governance deficit, deepening political discontent, and widening socio-economic disparity is the surest possible way to maintain a long-term peaceful environment in Mozambique.

With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources but remains among the poorest and underdeveloped group of countries in the world. It is one of the 16 countries, with a collective responsibility to promote socio-economic and political and security cooperation, within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) created in 1980. 

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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