Maputo — The Mozambican police on Friday detained two men in the central town of Dondo, accused of involvement in illegal recruitment of youths for military service.
Rumours of people being pressganged into the army in Beira and Dondo led to serious rioting on 27 November. The Defence Ministry insisted that it does not use pressgangs, and that any forced recruitment has nothing to do with the armed forces (FADM).
According to a report in Monday's issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, the two men were arrested at Canhundula, on the boundary between Beira and Dondo. They were accused of claiming to be soldiers and of attempted to recruit by force three young women, as they left a market.
The women say the men grabbed one of them by the arm, and told them they were being recruited into a new army being created by the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
“He said that if I offered no resistance, I would be the future wife of the commander of this army, and my friends would be cooks”, one of the women recalled. “But we screamed and managed to escape. I ran into a nearby house and my friends took refuge in a field”.
The supposed recruiters allegedly pursued the woman who had hidden in the house, but the owner of the house refused to let them in and threatened to call the police. Alerted by the noise, a crowd gathered and began to beat the two men.
After they were taken into police custody, the two denied having anything to do with any form of military recruitment. They said they worked for a private security company, and had just left a funeral when they walked past the market, and were spotted by the three women.
They believed they were mistaken for military recruiters because of the army style boots they were wearing. “Because of the rumours of recent days, we were dumbfounded”, they said, “but then we understood that it was all because of the boots”.
The only political party in Mozambique that has an armed force of its own is the former rebel movement Renamo. Nobody has ever accused the MDM of military ambitions.