Maputo — Members of the Mozambican Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) on Wednesday morning arrested Herminio dos Santos, leader of the Forum of Demobilised Soldiers, without a warrant or any explanation, reports Thursday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”.
On Tuesday, dos Santos had led a peaceful demonstration of about 350 former soldiers outside the office of Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina demanding that the government pay the demobilised a pension of 20,000 meticais (about 664 US dollars) a month.
There were no arrests and no significant disturbances reported at the demonstration, but early on Wednesday armed police came for dos Santos at his home. According to members of his family, they presented no arrest warrant and gave no explanation.
“They came here, they parked their car, which had no number plate, outside, and immediately came into the house”, said one of dos Santos’s daughters. “They asked for Dad, we offered them chairs to sit down, but they went straight to the bedroom and we only saw our father coming out handcuffed”.
“When I tried to ask questions, they pointed a pistol at me, and told me to shut up, otherwise they would kill me”, she said.
The family then went to the Maputo City Police Command, but dos Santos was not there. Eventually dos Santos managed to phone his wife and told her he was in the cells of the KaMpfumo Municipal District Court.
“Mediafax” contacted court officials, but they all said they knew nothing about the case.
Only the judge could answer questions, and he was not available.
The spokesperson for the City Police Command, Orlando Mahumane, said he knew nothing about the arrest. He said the police had talked with dos Santos during the Tuesday demonstration, and had reached an agreement.
He would not reveal details of that agreement, “but it did not involve arresting him. So I know nothing about this detention”.