Maputo — The Mozambican police on Thursday confirmed the detention, on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm, of the interim mayor of the northern city of Nampula, Manel Tocova.
The police displayed Tocova to the press in the Nampula premises of the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) together with the man who hired the gun out to him, Pedro Mahia, a former parliamentary deputy of the rebel movement Renam.
The spokesperson for the Nampula Provincial Police Command, Zacarias Nacute, said that Tocova was detained in Nampula city at about 15.00 on Wednesday, and that he will shortly be taken before a magistrate for the formalisation of his detention. Under Mozambican law, people whom the police wish to hold in custody should be taken before a magistrate within 48 hours of their arrest.
“This will be a summary case, and because of its seriousness it should be very quick”, said Nacute. “Manuel Tocova is charged with carrying a firearm illegally, and Pedro Mahia with renting out a firearm”.
Nacute showed reporters the gun, a pistol, with about 100 bullets that had also been seized from Tocova. He added that police inquiries were under way to ascertain what Tocova had used the gun for.
Tocova said he had hired the gun from Mahia in 2014, and had promised to pay him 3,000 meticais (about 50 US dollars at current exchange rates) a month. He said he wanted the gun for his personal security, but that it now no longer works.
Mahia said the Interior Ministry had granted him a licence for the pistol in 1999, when he was a Renamo deputy. He added that he had repeatedly asked Tocova to return the gun, since he had stopped paying the agreed monthly rent.
After this brief press conference, Tocoba and Mahia were taken back to the police cells.