Mozambique: Belief in Vampires Leads to Rioting in Zambezia

Vampire bat (file photo).

Maputo — Rumours of vampirism have led to violent disturbances in the town of Gile, in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, according to a report in Thursday's issue of the electronic paper "Txopela", published in the provincial capital, Quelimane.

Rioting in the town has been so serious that the Gile district administrator has been forced to flee. The Zambezia provincial governor, Abdul Razak, confirmed on Thursday morning that the administrator has taken refuge in the neighbouring district of Alto Molocue.

The rumours of vampires have been circulating for the past three months, and the disturbances seem to have begun last week when a mob attacked the home of a businessman in the locality of Muiane, accused of being a vampire. The crowd looted the shop, then vandalised the homes of the head of the Muiane administrative post and of the local secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party.

When the mob turned its attentions to the Muiane police station, the police opened fire and dispersed them.

The spokesperson for the provincial police command, Miguel Caetano, told reporters at a press briefing in Quelimane on Monday that five people had been arrested in Muiane for spreading the rumours about vampires and inciting disorder. The police also recovered five motor-cycles, several computers and other electrical equipment stolen in the Muiane rioting.

Caetano urged the public not to fall into the traps set by individuals who, under cover of night, spread the rumour that vampires are after their blood. He said those who spread the rumour did so in order to frighten people, and steal their property.

His words fell on deaf ears, and on Wednesday much more serious rioting broke out in Gile town, where a crowd wrecked the district government offices and attacked government officials who are supposedly collaborating with the vampires.

Not only the administrator but lower level officials, accused of hiding the true identities of the vampires, have fled from their offices and homes and taken shelter in the bush.

The police reacted, but, according to the paper's sources, the result was the death of two children, caused by what were described as "stray bullets".

Caetano called another press conference in Quelimane and admitted that the situation in Gile was "utter chaos". He said the police are trying to restore order, and urged calm.

Caetano said the rioting was the result of deliberate disinformation, caused by people who wanted to take advantage of the disorder in order to steal property.

The vampire rumour may have reached Zambezia from neighbouring Malawi, where mobs killed five people suspected of being vampires earlier this month, leading the government to impose a nighttime curfew in the south of the country.

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