Maputo, 27 Jul (AIM) – Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Service (Sernic) has dismantled a second hideout used by the kidnap gang who abducted businessman Manuel Manoj last Thursday.
The kidnappers took Manoj to a house they were renting in the neighborhood of Malhampsene, in the southern city of Matola, and held him captive there for five days.
But, thanks to a whistle blower, the police discovered the location of this house, and arrested three of the kidnappers after a shoot-out. Manoj was rescued and returned to his family.
According to a report in the independent daily “O Pais”, the police discovered a second house, used by the same gang, this time in the Liberdade suburb of Matola. Sernic believes the gang would have transferred Manoj to this house, if they ran into any problems in Malhampsene. One of the kidnappers injured in the shoot-out was living in this house.
According to the Sernic Maputo provincial spokesperson, Henrique Mendes, the police found two vehicles at the Liberdade house (a Toyota Sienta and a Nissan Dualis) that had been used in the kidnapping. These cars were used to escort the vehicle in which Manoj was being held. The two cars were left at Liberdade, before the kidnap gang took their victim to Malhampsene.
Mendes said Sernic also found a passport belonging to one of the criminals wounded in the clash with the police and who is now in hospital.
In Liberdade, the neighbours said they knew nothing about the tenants of the house, which is surrounded by a high wall. The local authorities say it came as a shock to find that the house was being used as a private prison, since no strange movement of people had been noted.
Sernic told reporters that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of 1.5 million US dollars, but the family gave them no money before Manoj was rescued.
Manoj is now recovering at home. He has a heart condition, and during the days of his captivity, he did not have access to the medication he needs. His business (a bottle store in central Maputo) is now being managed by his son.
The three men arrested are believed to be low level operatives of the kidnap gang, and the police say they are still trying to identify the criminals who gave them their orders.