Thursday, March 22, 2007


Today I had to abandon my class at the university for a new reason - a military arms dump 10 miles away started exploding, and as the explosions grew in intensity and began to shake the building and rip out the mosquito nets on the windows, the staff and students universally decided to evacuate the building.

The streets were full of people streaming away from the explosion - but later on we saw on the TV news, the neighbourhood of Malhazine where the arms dump is located. It is covered in a mushroom cloud filled with tracer ammo flying in all directions. Nina's family, who live in the next neighbourhood along, have all evacuated on foot, to a relative's house 3 miles further away from the explosion.

No reports of fatalities yet, but the houses near the dump appeared to have been flattened. Meanwhile, burglars will be having a field day as they clear out the abandoned houses near the blast zone.

Interestingly, the state broadcaster, TVM, sent a camera crew to the area right at the height of the explosions, and allowed it to broadcast direct. So the usual censorship and sycophantic editing didn't apply. The reporter, sitting in the back of a pickup as it fled the blast zone, was quite clear in her disgust at the authorities for letting this happen. Because the sad fact is, there were minor explosions of a similar nature a few months ago, again apparently caused by a heatwave. Of course, the responsible minister promised to "take measures", but in true Single Party Style, sweet F*ck All was actually done, and now the people are suffering.

Here is a photo taken from the university campus at the start of the explosions (before the worst). Remember that the campus is at least 10 miles from the dump!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

A wee update on the crime situation. The police recently "turned" one of the leaders of Maputo's big heist gangs, and used the information he gave up to catch and machine-gun to death the other leader, in a full-on high speed chase in the suburb of Matola a couple of weeks ago. Apparently when they raided his house afterwards, the police discovered four wives and two plasma TVs. Obviously, the plasma TVs where the talk of the town here.

The "Mambas" unit I mentioned in my previous post was disbanded on the quiet, and it seems that the flying squads have stopped shooting each other at least for the moment.

Meanwhile, the current black comedy being shown by the Gungulinho theatre group (who always focus their plays on up to date social issues), focuses on the sad story of public lynchings which I mentioned previously. The story takes place in a typical "bairro" on the outskirts of Maputo, where the residents suffer from a rising crime level - several rapes are horrifically depicted on stage - and eventually, in despair at the lack of action from the undermanned and underequipped local police station, they take the law into their own hands. At first everything goes well, and several "bandidos" are caught by the collective action of the residents, and burnt to a crisp while the police hide in their squadroom. But in the closing scene of the play, one of the young guys from the neighbourhood is attacked, as he comes home from work, by a "ninja" (street thief). He cries out for help, and it comes, but in the ensuing struggle and confusion, the thief escapes and HE is grabbed and set alight. The people at first rejoice, but as dawn breaks, they realise their mistake and the play ends with the audience quiet in anguish. If the government do not wake up and realise how explosive this issue is becoming, I reckon that they will regret it sooner rather than later.

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