Journalist & lawyer Ericino de Salema kidnapped and badly beaten

Journalist, lawyer and human rights activist Ericino de Salema was kidnapped in central Maputo on 24 March, taken to a spot on the Maputo Ring road, and badly beaten with arms and legs broken by metal bars, and left unconscious. He was saved by the intervention of people who live nearby, who stopped the attack and took him to hospital.

Salema was a regular guest on STV’s Sunday night chat show “Pontos da Vista” (“Points of View”), on which he often took positions critical of government policy, and had been highly critical of the conduct of Florindo Nyusi, son of President Filipe Nyusi, particularly for driving a car without number plates dangerously around Maputo. He also criticised attempts to restructure the $2bn secret debt. Salema is the second commentator on “Pontos de Vista” to be kidnapped. In May 2016, political analyst Jose Jaime Macuane was kidnapped and shot four times in the legs, and also dumped near the Ring Road.

Salema was taken at 13.50 when he left the premises of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ) on Avenida 24 de Julho in central Maputo, by two men who had been waiting since 10.00 in a car without number plates and with the engine running and the air-conditioner on.

This was the third attack on Maputo commentators. Prominent constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac was gunned down in a Maputo cafe on 3 March 2015. He had been saying publicly that the constitutional agreement on decentralisation now proposed with Renamo was possible, but at that time the Frelimo leadership was saying very forcibly that it was impossible. No one has been identified as being behind the attacks, leading to widespread speculation about a hit squad linked to a hard line group within Frelimo attempting to frighten and silence opposition. (AIM, Zitamar 27-30 Mar, Savana 30 Mar, CanalMoz 2 Apr, other media)

This time, the outcry has been greater and Frelimo has done more to distance itself. At the opening of Wednesday’s parliament session, both Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario and Assembly chairperson Veronica Macamo, condemned the attack. do Rosario visited Salema in hospital, and told reporters at the end of his visit, “We condemn what happened. We strongly condemn any attack against the physical integrity of people, and particularly against journalists”. Frelimo's Political Commission mandated two members to visit Salema.

In Mozambique, the constitutionally established Supreme Mass Media Council (CSCS), the Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), the Emergency Committee for the Protection of Freedoms (CEPL), and the lawyers association (OAM) all protested. Internationally, the Committee to Protest Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Reporters without Borders, the US Embassy and others protested.

Source: Editor: Joseph Hanlon ( j.hanlon@open.ac.uk)
Previous newsletters and other Mozambique material are posted on http://bit.ly/mozamb