On October 2, 2021, a group of police officers in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, detained and assaulted Armando Nenane, a reporter with the privately owned Imprensa Paralegal news agency, which distributes content to other news outlets, while he covered a road accident, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview and posted about the incident on Facebook.
Nenane filmed victims of the accident on his phone for Imprensa Paralegal, posting photos and video to his Facebook page. At 10:30 a.m., about an hour and a half after the accident, two vans carrying about 10 police officers arrived and the officers approached him, the journalist told CPJ. The officers surrounded him and confiscated his phone before five of them took him by foot to the nearby Ninth Police Station.
At the station, officers demanded Nenane unlock his cell phone and erase footage he recorded of police arriving at the scene, Nenane told CPJ. When he refused, one of the officers slapped him in the face. Nenane said he protested, that officer left, and then another officer told the journalist he needed to present his press documents if the footage was not to be erased. After about 30 minutes, Nenane’s wife brought his press card and identification to the station, and the officers returned his phone and released him without charge.
Upon leaving the police station, Nenane returned to the scene of the accident to continue reporting, but officers detained him again and took him back to the same police station in a police van. At the station, officers handcuffed him and held him for about 15 minutes, until he was released again without charge on an order from a higher-ranking officer, Nenane said.
A news crew with the privately owned TV Sucesso broadcaster was at the scene of the accident and saw Nenane being taken by officers the second time, according to Nenane and Romeu Pascoal, a reporter with TV Sucesso, who was not at the scene but was familiar with the incident and spoke with CPJ over the phone.
One of the TV Sucesso reporters told police that Nenane was a journalist and should be released, but officers ignored their requests, Nenane and Pascoal said.
“This sort of abuse from authorities is frequent,” Nenane told CPJ. “This is how journalists are treated by authorities in Mozambique.” CPJ has documented numerous arrests and official harassment of journalists in Mozambique in recent years.
Reached by phone, Maputo police commandant Fabião Nhancololo told CPJ on October 19 he was not aware of Nenane’s detentions and would investigate and contact the commandant of the Ninth Police Station. Nhancololo also told CPJ he would share contact information for the Ninth Police Station chief, but failed to do so and then did not respond to subsequent calls and messages.