MAPUTO – The Mozambican police raided the central Maputo headquarters of the rebel movement Renamo, and two houses in the capital belonging to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, where they seized a total of 47 guns – 40 AK-47 assault rifles, and seven pistols.
Members of Dhlakama’s family were in one of the houses during the raid on Sunday, but Dhlakama himself has not lived in Maputo since 2008.
He is reportedly in a bush camp in the central district of Gorongosa, from where he is said to be directing the current spate of Renamo ambushes against vehicles on main roads in the centre of the country.
Police in Mozambique confirm raid to 2 houses of Dhlakama in Maputo city. Weapons and uniforms have been seized. pic.twitter.com/LI3qyvx2MU
— zenaida machado (@zenaidamz) March 27, 2016
Some of the rifles seized were coated with rust and were obviously useless.
But, according to the police, 12 of the AK-47s and all of the pistols were in working order.
The police said that one of the AK-47s had been fired less than a month ago – a finding which supports police fears that Renamo guns are used for violent crime in the capital.
The Maputo city police commander, Bernardino Rafael, stressed to reporters that the main purpose of the police raids was to collect illicit weapons.
“We took note of information that in those places guns were going in and out, and so we undertook work which culminated in an operation to seize those guns”, said Rafael. “That confirmed that our information was accurate”.
Dhlakama’s son, Afonso Junior, was in one of the houses when it was raided. He said there were 25 police officers involved in the raid, and “they broke into our warehouse of weapons”, thus confirming, perhaps inadvertently, that the houses were used to store weapons.
He said that only the presence of children and his mother in the house prevented him from ordering “my soldiers” to open fire on the police
“Now I hate Frelimo,” Afonso jnr said, adding: “I could not order my soldiers to open fire, because there were children present”.
A former Renamo general secretary, Ossufo Momade, and the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, showed journalists round the three premises.
The police had smashed doors open and rifled through drawers in the office and in the two houses. Momade said the police “stole” cash and a laptop computer from the office.
He described the police operation as “an invasion”, and promised that Dhlakama himself would “respond politically”.
Momade said Renamo is allowed to keep guns under the terms of the 1992 peace agreement.
The agreement allowed Renamo to have its own force, equivalent to the police, to protect its top leaders, but that was only a transitional arrangement – between the ceasefire and the first elections (held in October 1994).
This clause in the agreement, however, expired more than two decades ago. It does not allow Renamo, or any other party, to establish a militia and own arms caches.