Maputo — The Mozambican police on Friday presented to the media a group of eight people arrested in connection with four kidnappings in recent months in Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola.
The police accuse Ismael Noormanade (known by the nickname “engineer”) of leading the group. Its other components are Ivo Candido Hunguane (an anthropology student); Horacio Cossa (a mechanic); Inocencio Pequenino (also known as “Tsetsa”); Ikba Algy; Benedito Armando; Ananias Adelino and Rui Joao Ferrao.
The eight were arrested between December 2013 and last Thursday. Several of them told reporters they had taken instructions from Noormanade.
The police seized from the group three vehicles, one pistol and several bullets, and two walkie-talkie radios.
“This is a highly structured group”, declared Joao Machava, spokesperson for the General Command of the police. “The investigations have led us to conclude that, in addition to these eight, there are obviously more people involved. Behind those who carry out these criminal activities there are always those who give the orders, and we are working to discover them”.
The police also took reporters to here hideouts where the gang had held their victims prisoner. The first place visited was in Marracuene district, about 30 kilometres north of Maputo,where a 15 year old girl had been imprisoned in an establishment owned by Inocencio Pequenino, and known as “Tsetsa's Bar”.
Pequenino admitted that he was paid 200,000 meticais (about 6,550 US dollars) to keep the girl captive for three days
“I've already spent all the money”, said Pequenino, adding, “My wife didn't know anything about this. I closed the bar for three days so that I could leave the child there, and told my wife it was because I had a visitor.” That visitor was another of the alleged kidnappers, Horacio Cossa.
The second hideout was a house belonging to Benedito Armando, in the Machava-Socimol neighbourhood of Matola.
Two children, aged five and seven, were held here. One stayed in the house for 24 hours and the other for a week.
As his reward for keeping the two children captive, Armando received 301,000 meticais. “I invested the money in my carpentry business and in rehabilitating my house”, he said.
The final hideout visited was a house rented by Ivo Hunguane. He only told the reporters that he had kept an eight year old boy there “for less than 24 hours”.
Machava said that the families of the four victims had paid ransoms amounting to about 11 million meticais (about 361,000 US dollars), and the police are working to recover this money.