Mozambique: Still no information on kidnapped Mozambican child

The Mozambican police still have no information on the whereabouts of a ten year old child who was kidnapped in the southern city of Matola on Tuesday.

According to a report in Thursday's issue of the Maputo daily 'Noticias', by Wednesday afternoon the child's parents had not yet received a ransom demand or any other form of contact from the kidnappers.

The child was abducted from the bus that was taking him from his parents' home to the Nilia Institute, a private school where he was attending fourth grade.

According to eye-witnesses, the boy was kidnapped by four men who took him away in a grey Toyota Corolla, with no number plate. The kidnappers intercepted the school bus and forced it to a halt. They attacked the driver, and seized the boy they wanted.

It is believed that the criminals had been spying on the boy's movements for some time, since a grey Toyota Corolla had been seen hanging around in the street where the family lives. The names of the boy and his parents have not yet been released.

The school has contacted a psychologist to assist children who witnessed the kidnapping and may have been traumatised. It is also stepping up security on the school premises, but admits that it cannot provide total safety.

The police fear that kidnap gangs, who had previously concentrated on abducting businessmen, particularly those of Asian origin, may have shifted their focus to the even softer target of the children of the wealthy.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the general command of the Mozambican police, Pedro Cossa, called on parents, guardian and those responsible for transporting for transporting children to take greater care. He urged all citizens to help locate the latest kidnap victim and those who abducted him.

Since late 2011, there have been about 30 kidnappings of business people. Questioned by reporters on Wednesday, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Armando Inroga, said 'the government is working, as it has always worked, to clear up these cases'.

Cited by the independent newsheet 'Mediafax', he recognised the concerns and fears of the business community. But, speaking during a conference between Mozambican and Spanish businessmen, he called for calm and guaranteed that everything is being done to track down and arrest the kidnappers.

However, there is little trust of the police – which is hardly surprising, since it is known that some policemen have actively collaborated with kidnap gangs. In a trial of kidnappers currently under way in Maputo, three of the eight accused are policemen. All have confessed their part in the crimes.

A former director of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), and now a university lecturer, Antonio Frangoulis, has called for a root and branch reform of the police force. He told 'Mediafax' that 'a courageous reform is needed in the ranks of the police, from top to bottom. There are many people in the police with leadership capacity, but they are relegated to secondary positions because of schemes of granting and receiving favours'.

Post published in: Africa News

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