Mozambique: Matavel Murder - Death Squad Members Promoted

Maputo — Two of the police agents who murdered civil society and election observation activist Anastacio Matavel on 7 October have been promoted, according to a report in Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".

Five members of the Gaza provincial branch of the Special Operations Group (GOE) of the Mozambican police, namely Euclidio Mapulasse, Edson Silica, Agapito Matavele. Nobrega Chauque and Martins Wiliamo, received the "mission" to eliminate Anastacio Matavel, the Executive Director of the Gaza Provincial Forum of NGOs (FONGA), and Gaza representative of the election observation coalition known as the "Sala da Paz" (Peace Room).

But the "mission" went wrong. The five member death squad did indeed murder Matavel, shooting him ten times in various parts of his body. But the getaway went badly wrong. Less than a kilometre from the site of the assassination, the vehicle used in the murder, a Toyota, was involved in a major traffic accident, hitting three other vehicles and overturning.

Nobrega Chauque and Martins Wiliamo died in the crash. Silica was injured, arrested and taken to the Xai-Xai provincial hospital. Mapulasse managed to flee from the crash, with a gun and headed for the Gaza command of the Rapid Intervention Unit (UIR - the Mozambique riot police). Agapito Matavele also fled, taking two guns with him. Mapulasse was arrested later, but Agapito Matavele is still on the run and believed to be in South Africa.

Silica and Mapulasse are now awaiting trial for first degree murder. Astonishingly, this has not stopped the police from promoting them.

According to "Mediafax", Silica's name is included in a dispatch of 27 December which promoted a number of officers to the rank of police sub-inspector. Mapulasse and Agapito (despite the fact that the latter is a fugitive) were promoted to sergeant in a separate dispatch. Both dispatches were signed by the General Commander of the police force, Bernadino Rafael.

"Mediafax" attempted, without success, to obtain a comment on these promotions from the police General Command.

The promotions bear out reports carried last year by "Mediafax"'s sister publication, the weekly paper "Savana". Citing the interrogations of the assassins, the paper, in its editions of 11 October and 1 November, said the killers had received no monetary reward for eliminating Matavel, but had been promised promotion.

That promise was made on 19 September, during a meeting which decided on the murder. That meeting was attended by the five members of the death squad, their commanders, and a state official (so far unidentified), who gave out the tickets used to buy fuel for the Toyota.

"Mediafax" says that both Silica and Mapulasse, when interrogated by prosecutor Elecia Putite dos Santos, confirmed that they had been offered promotions.

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