Mozambique: Theft of Relief Goods in Luabo

Maputo — A crowd demonstrated last week outside the residence of the administrator of Luabo district, in the central Mozambique province of Zambezia, demanding that a truck containing 39 sacks of rice allegedly stolen from a nearby warehouse be turned over to them.

Each sack contained 50 kilos of rice donated by the World Health Programme (WFP) to support the victims of cyclone Idai and the ensuing floods in Luabo. The rice had been stored in a transit warehouse for donated goods.

In connection with the alleged theft, two people are now under custody in the Luabo District Police Command.

Speaking at his weekly press briefing, the Zambezia police spokesperson, Sidner Lenzo, confirmed that 39 sacks of rice had been recovered. The two people in custody were the truck driver and a warehouse assistant.

Asked about claims by members of the public that the district administrator, Osvaldo Fleurine, was involved in the theft, Lenzo said it was premature to make any statement on this.

"What is important is that the police acted promptly to calm down the crowd down in front of the administrator's residence", Lenzo declared, promising to give more details later.

Speaking to AIM by phone, Fleurine categorically denied the accusation, though he confirmed there had been an attempt to steal 39 sack of rice and six litres of vegetable oil.

"Fortunately, last week we aborted this attempt to steal some of the goods donated by the government's partners, that were to be distributed to families affected by natural disasters here in Luabo", he said.

He denied there had been any significant protest. "The environment is calm in the district", he said.

"There has been no demonstration of the sort being talked about. The government is working to the full, without any agitation. I am at the disposal of everyone to prove my innocence".

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