Maputo — Interior Minister Jaime Basílio Monteiro on Monday instructed the Mozambican police (PRM) to stop the repugnant practice of harassing foreign tourists with excessive and endless vehicle inspections, mistreatment and extortion.
Speaking during a swearing in ceremony of new directors of the PRM and Mozambican National Immigration Service (SENAMI), Monteiro urged the whole police force to rethink on policing strategies and road inspections so as not to disturb the normal flow of tourists without compromising safety.
This call arises from the recognition that sustainable exploitation of natural resources, coupled with the hospitality of the Mozambican people, can be an important source for attracting resources necessary for the country's development.
"However, over and over again, we keep receiving complaints from foreign tourists about incorrect behaviour of our police officers. Often, these actions are recorded with audio-visual resources and then disseminated all over the world with the speed provided by communication and information technologies, creating an unfavourable image which compromise the normal flow of tourism. Therefore, it is urgent to rethink on inspection strategies to stop these cases", stressed the minister, cited in Tuesday's issue of the daily "Noticias".
Basilio added that it is the duty of the Interior Ministry to facilitate tourism. Therefore, he called for the need to improve the standard of services provided to tourists on the border posts, who deserve courtesy and respect within the framework of migration policies and the laws in force in Mozambique.
The minister also made it a point to remind police officers that the government has chosen tourism as one of its priority areas for Mozambique's development.
This warning comes barely a week after the suspension all police officers stationed in the tourist resort of Ponto de Ouro, in the far south of the country, after local residents accused them of extorting money from tourists.
It is feared that corrupt behaviour by the police may be one reason for a decline of tourism in Ponta de Ouro. This area borders the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, and tourists from South Africa are key to the local economy.
The decision came after an amateur video, showing the moment when an angry crowd blocked a police vehicle, circulated widely on social media.
The crowd intervened to rescue a tourist who was about to be dragged to a local police station, where they feared money would be extorted from him.
In the recent past, videos shot on cell phones have shown members of the traffic police extorting money from motorists. When these policemen can be identified, they have been expelled from the police force.