Maputo — Rioting on Friday in the central Mozambican city of Chimoio caused injuries to six people and led to 68 arrests, according to a report in Saturday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
The rioters in Chimoio were clearly copying the disturbances in Maputo and Matola on Wednesday and Thursday, where protests over rising prices became a pretext for the looting of shops and warehouses.
The Chimoio rioting was centred on the city’s informal markets, and the main purpose of the rioters seemed to be to grab the goods of the vendors. In the worst hit area, the Fernando Manyanga market, rioters set two stalls and one house on fire.
Traffic along the main road to Zimbabwe was temporarily interrupted, because rioters erected barricades. A truck and a light vehicle that attempted to break through the barricades were stoned, and their windows were smashed. Other roads out of the city were blocked for two hours, but no attacks on vehicles were reported.
Shops, banks, schools and other institutions closed for the day for fear of looting. In government buildings, the staff were sent home so that they could protect their own property. Passenger transport came to a standstill, and even after the police brought the situation under control, traffic remained thin.
Two of those hit by police bullets were children. Those who were seriously injured in the clashes are undergoing medical care in the Manica Provincial Hospital in Chimoio.
One of those detained was Tanger Maria de Jesus, who is a member of the National Council of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). According to “Noticias”, the police picked him up on the grounds that the previous day he had been mobilising people to participate in the riot.
But the MDM General Secretary, Ismael Mussa, told AIM on Saturday that this was completely untrue. No charges were laid against Tanger de Jesus, and the police released him unconditionally later in the day.
According to the Manica provincial governor, Ana Comoane, speaking at a press conference, there were also minor incidents in the other two significant urban centres in the province, Manica Town and Gondola. She claimed that the police brought these disturbances speedily under control.