Mozambique: Police Agents Involved in Kidnapping

Maputo — Definitive proof of the involvement of Mozambican policemen in the kidnappings of businessmen in the country's main cities became available on Thursday when five members of a kidnap gang were detained, and two of them turned out to work for the police.

The five were detained in connection with the abduction of a 31 year old businessman of Indian origin, Kapil Rajas, last Monday.

Rajas was kidnapped at his work place and taken to a house in the Maputo neighbourhood of Mahotas which the criminals had turned into a prison. The gang demanded that the victim's family pay a ransom of 600,000 US dollars for his release.

But no money was paid, because the police acted speedily, and raided the house in Mahotas, setting Rajas free, and arresting three of the kidnappers, all Mozambicans, on the spot. Later in the day, the police picked up two other people, both Indian citizens, believed to be the men who had ordered the kidnapping.

The Mozambicans were named as A.P da Silva, A.B. Chivombo and E.R Matola, and the Indians as V. Datwani and R. Koliyot.

On Friday the spokesperson for the National Criminal Investigation Service (Sernic), Hilario Lole, took reporters to visit the Mahotas house where Rajas had been held captive. "We are talking about five individuals who committed this crime, three Mozambicans and two Indians, aged between 31 and 58", he said.

He lamented the involvement in the kidnapping of an agent of Sernic, and a policeman stationed at the Maputo City Police Command.

"Administrative measures have already been started against these men", said Lole, "and Sernic has opened case files to hold them responsible, in both disciplinary and criminal terms, for their actions".

"Sernic will take measures to purify its ranks", he added. "Exemplary" measures would be taken against offenders "to discourage others who may feel tempted to embark on criminal activities".

The Mahotas house has been seized, and its owner will have no access to it while the investigations continue.

The Indians suspected of giving the kidnap gang their instructions denied all involvement in the crime. They told reporters they only used the house for "intimate meetings". But one of the police agents admitted his participation in the kidnapping, although he declined to tell the reporters how much he was to have been paid.

The owner of the house, Ester Chissano, said she had nothing to do with the kidnapping, and just rented the house out in April to two Mozambican citizens. She said they told her they intended to use the house to accommodate an uncle who was returning from South Africa, and paid her 33,000 meticais (about 530 US dollars, at current exchange rates) for three months' rent.

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