MAPUTO– The Mozambican police have denounced the creation of phoney associations of natives in Maputo City and Maputo Province which they say are behind a number of disputes over land to which they claim to have customary native rights.

Media reports here Tuesday cited the police as saying that those behind the formation of such associations use their alleged status as natives of a particular area to claim rights to the land. The police have discovered that the same people claim to be natives of several different places.

At a meeting with residents of the Maputo urban district of Kamabukwana here over the weekend, the general commander of the police, Bernadino Rafael, said the main purpose of the phoney associations was to usurp land, which the these people then sell.

In every neighbourhood, they call themselves natives,” said Rafael. But how can one and the same person be a native of many neighbourhoods? Nobody can be born simultaneously in Matola, Jafar, Boquisso, Sidwava, Matola-Gare and many other places.

We are sounding the alert. You should be attentive to these false ‘natives’, whom we have already identified. It’s the false members of ‘Commissions of Natives’ who are expropriating land and selling it illegally.”

Such illicit land seizures have been particularly acute in Marracuene district. One case has raged for the past two years, as self-styled natives of Marracuene have seized land from the forestry company, Milhulamete, which has legal title to the land, sub-divided the land into plots and sold them off.

Rafael warned his audience: Do not associate with these people. They are individuals who are using residents to disturb public order and tranquillity, and to discredit the authorities.”