Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday guaranteed that those who sexually abused women trainees at the Matalana police practical school, on the outskirts of Maputo, will be held responsible for their actions.
The scandal became public knowledge earlier this month when a dispatch from the General Commander of the police, Bernadino Rafael, was leaked to social media. In the dispatch, Rafael said that 15 trainees had been impregnated by their male instructors. Those instructors were suspended from duty and barred from setting foot in the Matalana centre.
The training of the 15 women was cut short, but they would be allowed to take the training course again at a future date.
Speaking at Matalana, at the closing ceremony of a police basic training course, Nyusi, cited in the online edition of the independent daily “O Pais”, said that the matter is serious, and is being studied in detail by the Ministry of the Interior and the General Command of the police.
“The State should not tolerate situations like this”, declared the President. “The law must be complied with, and it is the same for everybody. Nobody is above the law”.
Nyusi said that the government had been investigating the matter before it became public knowledge, and had discovered that one of the 15 trainees arrived at the school already pregnant.
“Four trainees became pregnant in the school”, he continued, “and investigations are under way to see if their partners were instructors or fellow trainees. The other ten had partners outside the school community”.
The women were between one and six months pregnant. Those who were three or more months pregnant had opened ante-natal files at a health unit, with the support of the school.
Nyusi asked the women trainees, their families and the school itself to assist the investigations into the matter.
The case also raised questions about how candidates are chosen for the courses at Matalana, as well as the credibility of the tests used to assess whether potential trainees are fit to enter the school.
Nyusi condemned the violation of police disciplinary norms and also lamented the fact that such abuses are not limited to Matalana, but are “a real problem that affects all of society”.
The President also praised the young members of the defence and security forces who are fighting against armed violence in the central and northern regions of Mozambique. In the northern province of Cabo Delgado terrorists linked to the self-styled “Islamic State” are active in several districts, while in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala, a breakaway from the main opposition party, Renamo, calling itself the “Renamo Military Junta”, has launched lethal raids against vehicles using the main roads, and other civilian targets.
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Members of the defence and security forces on these two fronts “are giving their best for the defence of the country”, said Nyusi.
The armed violence had a negative impact on the government’s efforts to secure a lasting peace, Nyusi recognised, “but despite this we are firmly complying with the disarming and demobilising of the Renamo residual forces, and reintegrating their members into society, and we are open to dialogue with all national actors”.
He also promised that those behind the attacks in the northern and central regions “will be held criminally and morally responsible” for their actions.
Nyusi told the young police trainees that their mission is to protect the country and the population. The use of force should always be “the last resort”.