19 June 2019

Mozambique: No Reason for Panic, Says Police Commander

Maputo — The General Commander of the Mozambican Police, Bernadino Rafael, has said there is no reason for panic, after the incident on Sunday when South African soldiers crossed the border near the tourist resort of Ponta de Ouro and killed two members of the Mozambican Frontier Guard.

"We are continuing to work on maintaining order and security on the border, without retaliating for this episode", said Rafael.

He stressed that Mozambicans and South Africans are not enemies, and the shooting should not undermine the relations between the two countries. "But we will do everything to ensure that there is no repetition of this type of event", he said. "We shall let the teams of inquiry work so that they may bring us the real causes of the incident".

The two Mozambican police officers killed, Faustino Monteiro and Lazaro Guirruta, both held the rank of second corporal, and worked in the First Battalion of the Frontier Guard, based at Changalane, in the southernmost district of Matutuine.

The shooting took place inside Mozambique, although there are conflicting reports as to how far the South Africans were from the border. Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias" says the incident happened 50 metres from the border, but the first report of the shooting, from the independent paper "O Pais", said the South Africans were ten kilometres inside Mozambique.

A spokesperson for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Mafi Mgobozi, said "a shooting incident" occurred "in the Ndumo area, east of Farazella, along the frontier between South Africa and Mozambique".

Mgobozi said the soldiers were on "a routine border protection patrol". Details were "incomplete" and the reasons for the shooting unknown.

On Tuesday night, the SANDF announced it would send a high level team to Mozambique "to interact with the authorities of that country "with the intention to further investigate the matter".

This statement added: "The huge task to keep our country's borders secure is a task we execute in concert with fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and both the local and Mozambican authorities are working hand in glove to seal the SADC borders against the illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons and contraband."

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