Maputo — The Maputo City Law Court on Wednesday confirmed the detention of Antonio Muchanga, spokesperson for Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo.
Muchanga is facing charges of incitement to violence. As a member of the Council of State, an advisory body to President Armando Guebuza, he enjoyed immunity from prosecution, but on Monday a meeting of the Council of State lifted his immunity, at the request of the Attorney-General's Office.
While the legal proceedings against him take their course, Muchanga will be held in the Maputo top security prison.
Muchanga's lawyer, Alice Mabota, who is also chairperson of the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH), protested that the formalisation of her client's detention was irregular. She said the court dispatch confirming the detention was read out, not be a judge, but by a court clerk
The judge was not present in the courtroom. “I've never seen this before in my entire life”, declared Mabota.
On Tuesday Mabota protested that, in violation of Muchanga's constitutional rights, the police had refused to allow her to speak with him. He was then being held at the Maputo Eighth Police Precinct. When Mabota went there, policemen on duty told her “they had received orders from their chief not to let me in”.
She told reporters that Muchanga's defence team is writing a letter of protest to the Attorney-General. “Whatever the type of crime, he has the right to a lawyer”, she said. “That's a constitutional right”.
Mabota added that she was representing Muchanga at the request of Dhlakama. The Renamo leader “phoned me up”, she said, “and asked me assist Muchanga. I asked him what the situation was and Dhlakama answered that he is afraid of appearing in Maputo because he might be arrested”.
She claimed that the detention of Muchanga had been “cooked up” long in advance. Her evidence for this was simply that he had been detained on the same day that his immunity was lifted. “The rule of law doesn't work like that”, she said.