Maputo — Mozambican police on Monday opened fire in the Beira neighbourhood of Alta da Manga to disperse a crowd of people who were demanding the arrest of a man named only as Chico, accused of running over and injuring three children the previous day.
According to the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”, at about 19.00 on Sunday the children, the brothers Joao and Armando Luciano, respectively two and four years old, and six year old Alexandre Luis, were playing in a yard near a market.
Chico drove his car through the yard, apparently on the way to his own house, and hit the three children. The mother of two of them, Zonje Manenga, said Chico had attempted to flee the scene, but crashed into the wall of the adjacent primary school.
When the police arrived, they ordered that the vehicle remain where it had come to a halt, and took its owner to the police station.
“Shortly afterwards Chico was set free by the police who also removed the vehicle”, said Manenga.
This led to discontent in the neighbourhood and an impromptu demonstration against the police behaviour the following day. Manenga said the protestors were “demanding justice”, but were dispersed by police bullets.
Chico “is our neighbor”, she said. “He's renting a house from the police director of public order, Kapangula Aquilasse. We never had any problem with Aquilasse. But we don't live safely with Chico. It seems that he wants to kill our children. He drives his car in our yards any way he likes”.
The father of the children, Luis Manenga, said local residents cannot understand why the police let Chico go, instead of holding him responsible for the injuries to the children and the other damage he caused.
“Is he untouchable because he's renting a house from a police chief?”, he asked. “We see that the police are guarding his house”.
A neighbor, Alexandre Mosse, said the residents regard Chico as dangerous and don't want him living among them.
“Chico ran over our children and he's peacefully in his house, guarded by the police”, said Mosse. “This hurts us a lot. We don't want him in this area any more”.