Mozambique: Police Threaten Tough Line On Violations of Public Calamity Decree

Maputo — The Mozambican police on Tuesday warned that it will take tough measures against people caught violating the measures decreed by the government to halt the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

The warning comes after repeated complaints from the Health Ministry of large scale violations of the decree establishing the "Situation of Public Calamity" in Mozambique. Scenes shown on Mozambican television channels make it clear that social distancing has largely been abandoned in passenger transport. Lengthy queues build up at terminals, with no attempt at distancing, and when a bus appears people come close to fist fights to enter the vehicle.

Footage shown on the independent station STV indicates that generally bus drivers or conductors do not take the temperature of passengers or to give them gel to clean their hands. Limitations on the number of passengers are routinely ignored.

Informal traders are returning to the pavements of central Maputo, and clandestine bars continue to do trade. It is compulsory to wear masks in public places, but large numbers of people can be seen walking through Maputo unmasked.

At a Maputo press conference on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Orlando Mudumane, said the police "have noted with great concern the deliberate and flagrant violation of the decree passed to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The police will continue to do its job, and we shall detain and hold responsible those who violate these norms".

He believed the main reason for violations of the decree is the illicit sale and excessive consumption of alcohol in public. He claimed that most of those breaking the rules are young people.

All bars and other places whose main business is the sale of alcoholic drinks have been closed since April. But many of these places have been selling drinks clandestinely.

Mudumane promised that the police will "respect the principles of legality" and will only resort to force when strictly necessary - but it will "continue to take all justifiable police measures to enforce compliance with the law".

For his part, Nataniel Cumbana, of the National Institute of Land Transport (INATTER), criticised the failure of motorists to respect rules on overcrowding their vehicles.

"We are stepping up our inspections on the ground to check the legality of all motorists", he said, "and if infractions are noted, the motorists will be fined on the spot".

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