The publicly-owned Mozambican insurance company, Emose, is refusing to pay any compensation to the victims of one of the country’s worst road accidents, on the grounds that the insurance policy of the bus involved in the accident had expired.
34 passengers died in the accident which occurred in July 2021, on the country’s main north-south highway (EN1) in Manhica district, about 80 kilometres north of Maputo.
Last week, the Manhica district court sentenced the bus company, Nhancale Transport, and Emose, to pay compensation of 33 million meticais (516,000 US dollars, at the current exchange rate) to the families of the victims.
But on Tuesday Emose held a press conference in Maputo, at which its technical director, Benedito Manhica denied that the company bore any responsibility for the accident.
“The bus company did not pay the instalment of the policy that expired in November 2020, and so the insurance contract became null and void. The last instalment wasn’t paid, and so there was no contract”, said Manhica.
If there was no valid contract, Emose was not obliged to pay anything, he said, and so the company intended to appeal against the ruling of the district court.
However, in delivering its verdict the court ruled that Emose bore some of the responsibility because it had not warned Nhancale that the insurance policy, obligatory for all passenger vehicles, was expiring and must be renewed.
The court also sentenced the bus driver, Carlos Mugaduia, to one year and eight months imprisonment, converted to a fine, and disqualified him from driving for a year.
The Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) is considering appealing against the sentence because it regards it as too lenient. It had called for compensation of 44 million meticais.