Maputo — Sandura Ambrosio, a former parliamentary deputy for Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, on Wednesday told the Dondo District Court, in the central province of Sofala, that he never recruited any young Mozambicans for the dissident Renamo Military Junta, or even for his own security company, called the Mambas.
Ambrosio is one of six people accused of conspiracy against the Mozambican state. The prosecution alleges that he is one of the people financing the Military Junta, which has carried out a string of murderous ambushes against vehicles using the main roads in Sofala and Manica provinces.
When he gave evidence last week, one of the co-accused, Antonio Bauase, repeatedly claimed that he had recruited three others to work in Ambrosio's security company, at Ambrosio's request. He also said that, before he left the town of Marromeu to catch the train to Dondo, he phoned Ambrosio to ask him to pay for the train tickets.
According to the account of the trial in Thursday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", Ambrosio confirmed that Bauase did ask him for money in early January, but only in order to pay for transporting his goods from Marromeu to Beira.
He also denied speaking to Bauase in Beira central prison, after they had been arrested. Bauase said Ambrosio had wanted him to testify in his favour.
Ambrosio said that in fact Bauase, supposedly at the insistence of his lawyers, had asked him to agree that he, Bauase, had recruited youths to work for the security company. Ambrosio refused. Any recruitment, he added, was entirely Bauase's responsibility.
Bauase's lawyers had contacted him several times, he claimed, urging him to back up the story about the security company, because "that will get us all out of this mess".
Ambrosio said he did not deal personally with the recruitment of staff for the company, because he had managers who handled such matters.
As for the Military Junta, Ambrosio categorically denied that he had financed it, or had been present at its founding conference.
The Junta leader, Mariano Nhongo, also denied reciving any support from Ambrosio. In a phone interview with the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Nhongo said "They're deceiving the Mozambican people. We're not financed by Sandura. Sandura never financed the Military Junta".
"Since they arrested Sandura, has the Military Junta stopped?", he asked. "We are guerrillas and guerrillas don't die of hunger. No deputy is supporting us".
Ambrosio is no longer a member of Renamo. In early 2019, newly elected Renamo leader Ossufo Momade sacked him as the Sofala provincial delegate. After a bitter dispute, Ambrosio defected to the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). He was an MDM parliamentary candidate in the October 2019 elections, but failed to win a seat.