Mozambique: Kidnap Gang Targets Wrong Victim

Maputo — Two men, so far unidentified, on Thursday kidnapped a 28 year old woman by mistake, because they confused her with the daughter of a trader living in the T3 neighbourhood of the southern Mozambican city of Matola.

According to a report in Saturday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the two men gained entry to the house by pretending to be workers of the electricity company, EDM. They claimed they were looking into cases of illegal connections through which electricity is stolen.

Once inside the house they grabbed the woman and rendered her unconscious with what the paper describes as “a chemical product”. Presumably this would have been chloroform or a similar substance.

They then bundled the woman into their car and drove northwards towards the district of Manhica.

The other people in the house at the time were mostly children, playing in the back, and had no idea of the drama taking place at the front of the house.

The intended victim was a woman named Olivia, the daughter of a “mukherista” - an informal trader who makes her living by purchasing goods in South Africa (in this case crockery) and then reselling them in Mozambique.

When the woman regained her senses, the kidnappers realized that she was not Olivia.

They beat her, and then threatened to kill her and dump the body. They must have thought better of this threat since they eventually drove further north, and released her in the city of Xai-Xai.

From there she managed to telephone the family in T3, who in turn contacted the police.

Nonetheless, when “Noticias”, later on Friday afternoon, contacted the Maputo Provincial Police Command, the information officer there, Emilio Mabunda, said he knew nothing about the case.

When the wave of kidnappings in Maputo cities began, in late 2011, the targets were wealthy business people, usually of Asian origin. As time passed, other criminals seem to have taken up kidnapping as an apparently easy way to make money, and the range of targets has spread out down the economic ladder to include informal traders who, while better off than most Mozambicans, are certainly not fabulously wealthy.

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