Maputo — The Nampula City Court, in northern Mozambique, on Wednesday sentenced the former chairperson of the Nampula Municipal Assembly, Manuel Tocova, to ten months imprisonment for the illegal possession of a firearm.
The man from whom Tocova had hired the pistol, for a rent of 3,000 meticais (about 50 US dollars) a month, Pedro Ussene, a former parliamentary deputy from the rebel movement Renamo, was also jailed for illicitly renting out a firearm.
Both men had their jail time converted to fines. Tocova must pay a fine of 290,000 meticais and Ussene one of 70,000 meticais.
Speaking to reporters after the sentence, Tocova said he would appeal, while Ussene said his lawyer would soon respond to the sentence.
The judge, Khaled Varinde, said “the charges against both men have been proved, and in the case of Manel Tocova there is the aggravating factor that he is a public official with the duty not to commit such acts”.
This is not the first time Tocova has clashed with the law. After the assassination, on 4 October, of the mayor of Nampula, Mahamudo Amurrane, Tocova became interim mayor. He immediately set about sacking the councillors who had worked with Amurane and appointing his own supporters to replace them.
The Public Prosecutor's Office warned him that this was illegal, since the powers of an interim mayor are limited to routine matters of day-to-day management, which do not include reshaping the composition of the Municipal Council.
Tocova paid no attention, but swore the new councillors into office. He was hauled before the city court, found guilty of disobedience and given a three month suspended sentence.
The police discovered Tocova's illegal possession of a firearm because he stopped paying the rent, and in early November Ussene complained to the police - who promptly arrested both of them.