Maputo — The Mozambican police have categorically denied a story published last week which claimed they had arrested four men suspected of the murder in South Africa of Patrick Karegeya, the exiled former head of Rwandan intelligence.
Joao Machava, spokesperson for the General Command of the Mozambican police, told a Tuesday press briefing that the story is entirely false, and no Rwandans have been detained.
Last week the independent newsheet “Mediafax” cited Machava as saying that the four suspects are currently being held in police cells in Maputo, while the procedures are under way which will lead to their deportation to South Africa.
But he now declared that he had never said anything of the sort. “We have not detained any Rwandans”, he stressed. “We have not detained any citizens who are accused of committing crimes in other countries”.
The only foreigners currently held by the Mozambican police, he added, were people caught smuggling drugs into the country, and illegal immigrants waiting to be deported.
Machava could not confirm allegations that the suspects in the Karegeya murder fled into Mozambique, and said the Mozambique police have not received official approaches from their South African counterparts about the case.
Karegeya's body was found on 1 January in a hotel in Sandton, a luxury Johannesburg suburb. A Rwandan opposition party, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) claimed he had been strangled by agents of the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Machava said the police know of two other murders of Rwandan citizens, but both took place in Mozambique.
In once case, a Rwandan businessman in the southern city of Matola was murdered last year by two of his employees (a Rwandan and a Mozambican). Both have been arrested and are awaiting trial.
The other case involved a Rwandan whose body was found on the Maputo coast. Machava said the police are still investigating, so far without success.
Although Machava did not name this victim, he can only be the former director of the Rwandan Development Bank (BRD), Theogene Turatsinze, whose body was found in the Bay of Maputo in October 2012.
Turatsinze headed the BRD from 2005 to 2007. Allegedly the bank was being looted by the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and in 2007 Turatsinze disobeyed an order from the Finance Ministry to declare the BRD bankrupt.
This led to Turatsinze's dismissal and his replacement by Jack Kayonga who obeyed the Finance Ministry order, declared the BRD bankrupt - and cancelled all the debts of RPF members.
At the time, there was speculation in some of the Mozambican press that Turatsinze was eliminated by a Rwandan death squad, because he knew too much about the financial affairs of senior figures in the RPF.
Machava also confirmed that three more kidnappings took place in the week between 11 and 17 January. Another occurred in Matola on Monday. He declined to go into details “so as to avoid compromising the investigations”.
One case he could not confirm was the alleged kidnapping last week of two pilots of the Portuguese airline TAP. According to Portuguese press reports they were seized by five armed men wearing police uniforms, and held for an hour and a half. The gang stole all the money they were carrying.
Machava said that TAP has not contacted the Mozambican police. No complaint has been lodged, and currently the police cannot confirm the incident.
Among the arrests made last week, Machava said, were those of two people in Nacaroa, in the northern province of Nampula, who had been caught trafficking in human bones. The two men had been digging up graves in local cemeteries. Bones were found in their possession, and they said they had been selling them to foreigners, presumably for use in black magic rituals.