Mozambique: Six On Trial for Conspiracy in Dondo

Maputo — The Dondo district court, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, on Friday began the trial of six people accused of conspiracy against the security of the Mozambican state, through their support for the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta", the breakaway from the country's main opposition party Renamo, which rejects the peace agreement signed last August by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade.

Led by Mariano Nhongo, who has promoted himself to the rank of general and claims to be the true leader of Renamo, the Junta has staged a string of murderous ambushes against vehicles using the main roads in Sofala and Manica provinces.

The most prominent of the six accused is Sandura Ambrosio, a former Renamo parliamentary deputy, and former Renamo provincial political delegate for Sofala. He is accused of financing the Military Junta.

Ambrosio was involved in a bitter struggle inside Renamo in early 2019, when Momade stripped him of his position as Sofala provincial delegate. Ambrosio declared that he had the support of the Renamo rank and file, but Momade insisted that he alone had the right to appoint political delegates.

When he lost this battle, Ambrosio defected from Renamo and joined the country's second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). He stood for the MDM in the October 2019 parliamentary elections, but was unable to retain his seat in the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. He became a supplementary member of the Assembly for the MDM - meaning that he will only become a full member if people above him on the MDM list of candidates die or resign.

The other five accused were detained in January at Dondo station. They had arrived by train from Marromeu district, where they were allegedly recruited to the Military Junta by Antonio Bauase, a Renamo member of the Sofala provincial assembly. The prosecution believed they intended to travel on to the neighbouring district of Nhamatanda, where they would have worked for the Junta.

According to the trial report in the electronic version of the daily paper "O Pais", the first of the accused to testify, Anival Joaquim, said he had been contacted in Marromeu by Bauase and his co-accused Gabriel Eugenio with an offer of a job to work in the "Mambas" security company, owned by Sandura Ambrosio.

Joaquim said that, between 2 and 4 January, Bauase telephoned Ambrosio and he heard him say "I have two people here, but I don't have train tickets". Ambrosio supposedly replied "If you don't have the money, ask for a loan, and I'll give you the money here in Dondo".

The next day, Bause gave Joaquim and Eugenio 600 meticais (about nine US dollars) each for the train journey. All three took the train from Marromeu and arrived in Dondo on the morning of 5 January.

At Dondo station, Bauase told his companions that Dondo, and not Nhamatanda, was the final destination, which led to an argument between the three men. They were still arguing when the police arrived and detained them.

Joaquim claimed that, when they left Marromeu, he did not know how much his wages would be in the security company. He denied the prosecution claim that Bauase had promised him a wage of 25,000 meticais a month.

He said he intended to find out how much he would be paid once he was in Dondo, and if he did not accept the proposed wage, he would simply return to Marromeu.

He denied ever meeting the other three co-accused, and insisted that his only purpose in leaving Marromeu was to work as a security guard.

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