13 November 2018

Mozambique: Another Journalist Receives Death Threats

Maputo — The editorial director of a Maputo weekly "Dossiers e Factos", Serodio Towo, has received death threats from unknown individuals, apparently because of content in the paper critical of the government.

According to a press release from ST Projectos e Comunicacao, the company that owns the paper, Towo has been receiving threatening phone calls since Saturday.

Towo managed to record the lengthiest call, made by someone calling himself Socula Condwana - almost certainly a pseudonym.

In this phone call, the unknown "Condwana" said "Someone who draws your attention is a friend. So I want to inform you that it would be a good idea to abandon these matters you've been dealing with about questions of the government, otherwise it's going to land you in a lot of confusion. Those who warn you are your best friends. To say more, this republic was liberated in one way.." - but then the line went dead, before "Condwana" could complete his threat.

The release said this was not the first time Towo has been harassed. Early this year, he had been followed by vehicles without number plates for several days, but he could never find out what they wanted.

According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax", Towo has complained to the police, and given them the recording of the phone call. The number from which the call was made was clearly identified - and since all cell phone SIM cards are supposed to be registered, it should be possible to check who this number belongs to.

This is the latest in a string of recent attacks against press freedom. Thus, according to the Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), immediately after the 10 October municipal elections, journalists on Radio Watana, a station belonging to the Catholic Church, in the northern port city of Nacala, received threatening phone calls from unknown individuals accusing them of contributing to the defeat of the ruling Frelimo Party in this city.

Anonymous threats were also made to the director and deputy director of Radio Encontro in Nampula city, the catholic priests Benvindo Tapua and Cantífula de Castro. Like the Nacala journalists, they were accused of contributing to Frelimo's defeat at the hands of the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.

In the mining town of Moatize, in the western province of Tete, the mayor, Carlos Portimao, who was standing for a further term of office, personally threatened violence against journalist Fungai Caetano, who is the correspondent in Moatize for the Zitamar News Agency.

Portimao's threatening phone call was also recorded, and he can be heard saying "I'm warning you - I'm going to give you a real beating. You don't know me. I don't like games".

Despite Caetano's attempts to explain that he did not write the item that offended Portimao, the voice at the other end of the line continued "You can't play around with me, do you hear? I'm going to give you a beating".

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