Maputo (AIM) – According to eye-witnesses, last Friday’s murders of two local officials in the central Mozambican province of Sofala occurred after they had urged people in Nhampoca village not to abandon their homes in response to classes between government forces and gunmen of the Renamo rebels.
Source: Witness speak of abduction of Nhampoca officials – The Zimbabwean 09.06.2016
The Nhampoca regulo (traditional chief), Joaquim Chirangano, and the head of the Tica administrative post, Abilio Jorge, were addressing a village meeting, on the instructions of the Nhamatanda district authorities, advising people not to leave the region, where Renamo violence had already closed down several schools.
But at the end of the meeting four armed men strode out of the bush. They were joined by a fifth man, who was already in the crowd, with an AK-47 assault rifle hidden in a bag.
Cited in Monday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, the gunmen “asked us who had been burning down houses and destroying fields. Because we were afraid of their guns, we replied that it was members of the government forces”.
The head of Nhampoca locality, Ezequiel Mambasse, said one of the gunmen told the others to tie up Jorge and Chirangano. “They also ordered two community leaders and two teachers to be tied up, but when the local people explained who they were, they let them go”, he added.
The gunmen gave Mambasse a piece of paper on which a phone number was written, and told him to give it to the district administrator. They wanted the administrator “to contact them urgently. They also instructed me to tell the administrator not to send the police”.
Half an hour later the administrator did indeed try to phone the number given, but without success. Shortly afterwards, the information reached Mambasse that Jorge and Chirangano had been murdered.
The two men had bullet wounds in their heads, and injuries to their bodies apparently made by machetes or axes.
On Sunday, regulo Chirangano was laid to rest in a cemetery in Nhamatanda town, since security conditions did not allow the funeral to be held in Nhampoca. Chirangano was a veteran of Mozambique’s independence war, and so he was given military honours.
The murders have resulted in mass abandonment of Nhampoca. 11 schools are now closed in the region, since both pupils and teachers have fled.