Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism has reported on their Facebook page that the 65 rhino horns and 340 elephant tusks confiscated last week in Maputo have ‘disappeared’ from the police warehouse in which they were being kept.
On the 14th of May a ton and a half of elephant tusks and rhino horns were seized by the Mozambican police in Matola. It is believed that 235 animals must have been slaughtered: 170 elephants and 65 rhinos. A Chinese man was arrested but police have yet to reveal his identity.
Namibian investigative journalist, John Grobler, had this to say on his Facebook page, “Just got word that the massive haul of 65 rhino horn and 340 ivory tusks have disappeared from the Police Commander’s warehouse in Maputo.
[That was the] same warehouse where I got bust 23 years ago photographing soldiers off-loading RENAMO ivory into what I was told was former President, Armando Gbeuza’s warehouse. [It] cost me a few days in jail and everything I owned in Maputo before a friend could bribe me out of there.
It is not the first time this happens: ivory and rhino horns keep disappearing from official custody in Mozambique, which tells you that the government itself is involved in the ongoing plunder of their own and their neighbour’s natural resources.
It is time Mozambique gets exposed for the role they play in this and FRELIMO’s rotten officials placed under international sanctions. Because this is, like crime everywhere in countries led by former liberation movements, coming out of the ruling party’s inner-most circles.”
A report on Verdade.com says that the horns and ivory was stolen from the premises of the Police Provincial Command in the early hours of Friday, the 22nd of May from a place that was locked with three padlocks whose keys were entrusted to the same number of people.
News24 said that six people have since been arrested in connection with the stolen horns, with an estimated street value of R76m. The nationalities of those arrested are not known, and there is no indication if the horns were recovered.
The News24 report went on to say that shortly after the horns were reported missing, newly-elected President Felipe Nyusi, addressed a police parade to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Mozambican police force. During his speech he said: “The news of policemen who join the ranks of the criminals, particularly when I am told that they have the necessary training so as not to commit the crimes they have embraced, deprives me of sleep. When policemen are caught in the gangs trafficking in rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks, and various drugs, or facilitate these same crimes, I am unable to sleep. I cannot sleep when the statistics show an increasing number of police involved in crime.”
Africa Geographic’s calls to the Maputo police yielded no answer.