One person died and many others were injured as police and protesting residents clashed at the administrative post of Messica, Manica district in Mozambique’s central region on Tuesday, 5 February 2019.
Violence broke out after anti-riot police arrested three individuals accused of trafficking human organs.
One of the suspects tried to flee before being arrested and locked up, an incident which outraged the local population who wanted those implicated in the human trafficking and murder syndicate prosecuted.
Among the suspects are a 22-year old Zimbabwean national who is regarded as the chief culprit.
An eyewitness at the scene, Zito Mabureza, shared that the first case of a child murder occurred late on Monday, 4 February 2019 and the body was discovered early on Tuesday, 5 February 2019, while the other remains of a murdered child was found without eyes and genitals.
“The crime prompted an investigation by the police who subsequently arrested three suspects but the population want to take the law into their own hands by lynching the suspects, that’s when violence broke out”, he said.
One suspects is said to have fled from police custody before he was rearrested at a nearby village.
The residents of Messica protested in front of the local police station, demanding explanations about the suspect’s release, and asking the heads of the remaining members to take justice into their own hands.
The situation forced the police to disperse the population by firing into the air and releasing tear gas, which resulted in rioting.
According to International Migration Organisation (OIM), Mozambique is a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.
The U.N organisation adds that the use of forced and bonded child labourers is a common practice in Mozambique’s rural areas, often with the complicity of family members.
Women and girls, often with promises of employment or education, are trafficked from rural to urban areas of Mozambique, as well as to South Africa, for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation, young men and boys are trafficked to South Africa for farm work and mining.