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Cablegate: Crime Rates Stable, but Violent Crime Is Up

VZCZCXRO7637
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0803 2380705
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250705Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9262
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0220

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000803

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF, DS/DSS/IP, DS/DSS/CC, DS/IP/OPO,
DS/IP/ITA, DS/IP/AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC MZ
SUBJECT: CRIME RATES STABLE, BUT VIOLENT CRIME IS UP

REF: A. 07 MAPUTO 949
B. MAPUTO 746
C. MAPUTO 487

1. (SBU) According to law enforcement officials, crime rates
in Maputo for July and August--traditionally a period of
increased crime for the city (ref A)--have remained stable
compared to the same timeframe in previous years. However,
anecdotal evidence suggests that these numbers may mask a
change in the type of crimes being committed, as violent
crime appears to be trending upwards. Press reports indicate
an increase in crimes involving weapons (especially guns),
that were previously rare--in the past, criminals tended to
use sheer numbers to overwhelm their victims. As a part of
this trend, there have been increased reports of carjacking,
violent home invasions (ref B), and comprehensive robberies
of all customers inside business establishments. There have
also been six kidnappings-for-ransom reported since just
August 1, compared to none reported in the past two years.

2. (SBU) Mozambican sociologist Carlos Serra told
polspecialist on 8/15 that he sees a direct link between the
return of 40,000 Mozambican nationals who fled xenophobic
attacks in South Africa (ref C), and a change in the type of
crime committed in Maputo, claiming that "crimes like
kidnapping never occurred in Mozambique before." Public
opinion suggests as well that it is widely believed that
returnees learned more aggressive and violent criminal
behavior in South Africa.

3. (SBU) While Maputo police have promised a strong response
to the increasingly violent crimes, their presence on the
streets does not appear to have visibly changed and crime
hasn't fallen. For example, a local businessman's home
(across the street from the Diplomatic Police Station and 500
meters from the Chancery) was robbed by masked men wielding
AK-47s last week. The police did not respond when called to
the scene, apparently due to the late hour (9:00 PM local).

4. (SBU) COMMENT and EMBASSY ACTIONS: The general public
may blame returnees from South Africa for recent violent
crime, although jumps in the prices of food and
transportation may be more significant drivers with rent,
utilities, and fuel inflation above 10 percent, and
subsidized fuel prices increasing in June by 17 percent
alone. Inflation combined with minimal increases in real
wages for the few workers that are part of the formal economy
likely play significant roles as well. These factors have
resulted in a growing discontent with the Guebuza
administration, which has had a surprisingly muted response
so far. Aside from raising our concerns about the safety of
our staff and families with law enforcement agencies, the
Embassy held an all-hands town hall meeting on August 5 to
discuss the best practices of home security, has directed the
LGF contractor to increase vigilance at our properties, is
hiring a residential security coordinator to oversee
additional improvements, and has redoubled efforts to ensure
community participation in weekly radio checks. END
COMMENT/ACTIONS.
Amani

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