Maputo — Serious rioting broke out last Friday, after two people were lynched in the Zongoene administrative post, in the southern Mozambican province of Gaza.
According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the disturbances began when a crowd seized three suspected thieves and lynched two of them. The third escaped because the police managed to rescue him.
As in previous cases where mobs have taken the law into their own hands, the killers defended their actions on the grounds that the police do not defend them against criminals.
Hoping to seize and kill their third victim, the lynch mob marched on the Zonguene police station. According to the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina, the crowd vandalised the police station and the offices of the administrative post. They burnt down five houses, three of them owned by the suspected thieves. The other two belonged to the head of the administrative post and to one of his staff.
Dina said the rioters also set two police vehicles on fire, and wrecked two informal market stalls belonging to the alleged thieves.
Police reinforcements were sent to Zonguene, and the situation was brought under control. “There's a riot police brigade there”, said Dina, “and together with the Limpopo district administrator and the district police command, they are trying to persuade the public to stop trying to exact justice with their own hands”.
Dina urged members of the public to hand over to the police anyone whom they believe has committed a crime. He pledged that such accusations will be investigated, and if criminal activity is proved, the persons concerned will stand trial.
The police believe that the mob seized another three suspected thieves who are now effectively being held hostage.