Mozambique: Supposed Pakistani Fishermen Detained in Beira

Maputo — 12 Pakistani citizens whose boat was rescued from the high seas and towed to the central Mozambican port of Beira in April have now been thrown into jail, charged with illegal immigration, according to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

The Secretary of State for Sofala Province, Stella Zeca, confirmed the arrests, but declined to give any further details.

The story told by the Pakistanis was that they left Pakistan on 21 February, with the task of rescuing another boat belonging to the same company which had been adrift for three weeks. Bu the rescue mission went wrong, the boat’s engine broke down, and they drifted helplessly until they were rescued by a Mozambican fishing vessel on 30 April.

The Pakistanis initially refused to be towed to Beira, and instead begged the Mozambican boat for fuel. But the Mozambican ship-owner turned the request down, and eventually the Pakistanis agreed to be taken to Beira.

The Mozambican authorities did not believe their story. The Pakistani captain, Mahmad Anif, claimed that his crew were all fishermen, but there was no sign that the vessel had done any fishing.

The police suspected that the Pakistanis were involved, either in supplying the terrorist groups fighting against the Mozambican government in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, or in drug trafficking.

In May, Paulik Ucacha, the Sofala provincial commander of the police, told reporters “We want to know the real reasons that brought them to the Mozambican coast. We want to know if they are really fishermen who were victims of a storm, or if they have anything to do with the Cabo Delgado insurgents, or if they are traffickers”.



Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique.