Mozambique: Alleged Renamo Armed Men Detained in Sofala

Maputo — The Mozambican police have announced the detention last Sunday, in the central province of Sofala, of six armed men supposedly loyal to the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta", the breakaway from the main opposition party Renamo.

The police presented five of the detainees to reporters in Beira on Wednesday. The sixth is undergoing medical treatment in Beira Central Hospital, since the police shot him in the leg when he attempted to escape.

All six were detained at Dondo railway station (about 30 kilometers north of Beira), after they had disembarked from a train that came from the town of Marromeu, on the south bank of the Zambezi.

The leader of the group, who is a member of the Marromeu Municipal Assembly, elected on the Renamo ticket in October 2018, said he had recruited the other five, and they intended to travel to the Macorococho region in Nhamatanda district.

The other four men said they were members of Renamo but they had never belonged to the Military Junta. They said their leader had bribed them in Marromeu with promises of employment.

According to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", another detainee said he had been picked up by the police at his home in Gorongosa district, but had never belonged to either faction of Renamo - although he admitted to taking part in an attack against an ambulance last August.

"I was first captured by the Military Junta", he claimed, "and I was obliged to cook for them for three months. I escaped in early December and went home. Two days later I was captured by Renamo armed men who support Ossufo Momade (the elected president of Renamo, dismissed as "a traitor" by the military junta)".

He said he was taken to a Renamo base in the Gorongosa bush, where he was kept for two days before his captors set him free. Back home, after another two days, "the police appeared and detained me on the grounds that I am a Renamo guerrilla. But I was never a Renamo guerrilla. I was indeed a soldier, but in the Mozambican armed forces".

These detentions coincide with notifications sent by the Attorney-General's Office to four senior members of Renamo, all deputies in the outgoing Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. The PGR intends to question them about their alleged support for the Military Junta and its ambushes against buses and trucks on the main roads of Manica and Sofala provinces.

Those who have received the PGR summons are the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, the Renamo national spokesperson, Jose Manteigas, the former Renamo general secretary, Manuel Bissopo, and the Renamo candidate in the recent elections for governor of Maputo province, Antonio Muchanga.

Bissopo should have been questioned on Wednesday at the PGR headquarters in Maputo, but he lives in Beira, and he told the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique" that he has no money to fly to Maputo.

So he went to the PGR office in Beira, where he told prosecutors he was quite willing to answer questions, but had no way of reaching Maputo. He hoped that the PGR would provide him with funds for the air ticket.

These four Renamo parliamentarians are among those accused of financing the Military Junta by a group of six Junta supporters detained last year in Zambezia province. These six men, aged between 18 and 40, said they had been enticed with promises of jobs in the police and in the customs and immigration services.

They were instructed to set up military bases for the Junta in the Zambezia districts of Milange, Namarroi and Morrumbala. They said they had each been told to recruit a further fifty people to the Military Junta.

One of them, Carlos Leao, said the head of the Junta himself, Mariano Nhongo, had ordered him to reopen Renamo's Zambezia front, starting from Morrumbala, where one Renamo base already exists.

Both Bissopo and Manteigas have flatly denied having anything to do with the Military Junta.

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