19 December 2017

Mozambique: Husband Denies Murdering Valentina Guebuza

Maputo — Mozambican businessman Zofimo Muiuane on Monday denied murdering his wife, Valentina Guebuza, the daughter of former President Armando Guebuza.

On trial before the Maputo City Court, Muiuane, who is facing charges of murder, illegal possession of firearms, and falsification of documents, claimed that Valentina herself had pulled the trigger in the middle of an angry row between the couple.

The prosecution argues that, on the day of Valentina Guebuza's death, 14 December 2016, Muiane, using a 7.85 mm calibre pistol, fired several shots at his wife, two of which hit her in the thorax and one in the abdomen.

The two married in 2014, but the marriage was clearly on the rocks. The shooting was preceded by a meeting between the couple and the godparents of their wedding (Frelimo veteran Feliciano Gundana, Presbyterian pastor Amos Zitha and their wives), in an attempt to solve their problems. But at the meeting, Valentina said she wanted a separation.

Muiuane, however, claimed that there were no problems between him and Valentina until hostile messages about them began appearing on social media (particularly on Whatsapp) on 12 December.

Muiuane's account of these messages, reproduced in full in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, is garbled and hard to follow. He did not give the content of the messages, but claimed that he had received a phone call from an unnamed official of the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development who said the messages were the work of “the mulattoes”, mentioning in particular the Minister of the Environment. Celso Correia.

This is the first time - in public at any rate - that a racial twist has been given to the murder or that Correia's name has been mentioned.

Muiuane claimed that all seemed to be well between them until the meeting with Gundana and the other wedding godparents. Gundana expressed concern at the Whatsapp message, and Muuane told him the couple had opted to ignore it “because it's a defamatory message with the clear intention of destroying our home”.

Valentina, however, accused Muiuane of sending the message. She supposedly said “it's a lie that we're fine in this house. We're not fine and I'm sure that my husband sent that message”.

Muiuane said the accusation took him by surprise, but Valentina insisted not only that he was the author of the mysterious message, but that he had recently prevented her from travelling to South Africa. During his lengthy explanations about the abortive trip to South Africa, Muiuane admitted that he had hidden Valentina's passport and mobile phones.

As the meeting continued,Valentina declared that she no longer wanted Muiuane to live in her house, and at that point the godparents left.

A few minutes later, according to Muiuane, Valentina seized his pistol, pointed it at him and said “Get out of my house or I'll kill you”. A fight ensued, during which Valentina accidentally shot herself. Muiuane claimed that he then tried to kill himself, put the gun inside his mouth, but it would not fire.

Muiuane's story is completely different from the one he told the police shortly after his arrest. As frequently happens in Mozambican criminal cases, he withdrew his signed confession, saying that he had been coerced into confessing by the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), even though his lawyer, Amadeu Uqueio, was present during the interrogation.

In the house the police found a South African passport, in the name of Washington Dube, but bearing the photograph of Muiuane. Asked what he was doing with a forged South African document, Muiuane turned himself into a spy working for the Mozambican Intelligence and Security Service (SISE).

Although a document bearing the photograph of one person and the name of another is obviously a fake, whether it was made in South Africa or in Mozambique, Muiuane insisted that the passport was not false, but he could give no details “in order to preserve the integrity of the state”.

But eventually he claimed that the passport had been given to him in 2002 by SISE “for a job”, using the pseudonym of Washington Dube.

Muiuane was thus making the extraordinarily serious claim that the Mozambican security service forges South African passports.

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