10 dead as riots subside in Mozambique

Maputo, Mozambique – Ten people have been confirmed dead by health officials as calm has returned to Mozambique’s capital Maputo after three days of price riots.

A further 155 people were injured between Wednesday morning and yesterday afternoon, Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido told journalists in Maputo.

Meanwhile, small groups of people staged riots in the Liberdade, Urbanizacao, Benfica and Magoanine townships around the city, the Red Cross told Sapa.

Groups were much smaller than during the first two days of rioting.

Mozambicans went on a massive strike in the capital and neighbouring town of Matola on Wednesday and Thursday to protest high increases in living costs.

Bread prices rose while the cost of water and electricity also went up following fuel price hikes and the devaluation of the national currency, the metical.

Yesterday riots broke out in central city Chimoio, where police opened fire with live ammunition when about 100 people set alight stalls and tyres in the biggest market, police spokesperson Belmiro Mutadiwa said.

Smaller groups also rioted in other parts of the city, but the unrest was smothered after more than 50 people were arrested, Mutadiwa said.

In the capital, the EN4 road leading from Maputo through Matola to South Africa, and the EN1 from Maputo to Xai-Xai were cleared and traffic flowed freely, state media reported.

Long queues formed at bread shops, supermarkets and fuel stations as residents stocked up on essentials for the first time in two days.

“I’m standing in line to pay my electricity because all the shops were closed. It’s unbearable to be without electricity,” said Alberto dos Santos (18), while waiting his turn at an energy outlet in Xicanhanine township.

“On one side the strike was a good thing, because it was done to lower the food price. But on the other hand, we were left without electricity, sometimes without fuel.”

Even when shops were open, people did not necessarily have enough money to buy food, security guard Jacob Matusse (62), told Sapa, while waiting for bread in a queue in Zona Militar.

“It wasn’t open yesterday. I didn’t have money.”

Instead Matusse had cassava, a staple food.

Government spokesperson Alberto Nkutumula told journalists on Thursday that demonstrators had damaged and looted shops, set alight four electrical substations and vandalised two petrol stations.

Twelve public buses and numerous cars had also been damaged.

The first day of riots caused damage estimated at 122 million meticals (about R24?million).

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