Maputo — Residents of Mandimba district, in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa, have accused neighbourhood secretaries and other local officials of harbouring and protecting illegal immigrants, mostly from Malawi, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
The accusation came on Sunday at a meeting in Mandimba addressed by the general commander of the Mozambican police, Bernadino Rafael.
People who spoke at the meeting blamed an increase in crime in the district on Malawians. They said local officials provided accommodation for illegal immigrants in exchange for large sums of money. Once installed, the immigrants undertook activities such as the illegal sale of local and foreign currency, and other economic activities on which they pay no taxes.
Rafael urged neighbourhood secretaries and community leaders to refrain from any illicit activity, warning them that the police are following the situation and will take action against anyone found harbouring foreigners in the country illegally.
The local leaders had heard the complaints from the public, he said, urging them “to stop this behaviour, because it is against the law. Those who break the law by sheltering illegal migrants will be punished. There is no room in our country for sheltering illegal migrants, who are only interested in looting our resources and fomenting crime. We are paying attention and we shall take appropriate measures”.
But Rafael also apologised for the police violence of 2 October, when four protesters were shot dead by police in Mandimba town. The protests were against alleged involvement of policemen in the murder of a local currency trader.
The ensuing rioting included attacks on houses and the destruction of police vehicles. While Rafael accepted that the police bore some of the blame for these events, he also urged Mandimba residents not to embark on the destruction of public property.
“To deal with any problem we may have, we are open to dialogue”, said the commander. “No problem is solved by the destruction of property”.