Maputo - A think-tank based in the United States on Wednesday called on Mozambique to tackle rising crime amid a wave of high-profile kidnappings and as the country becomes a major corridor for trafficking of African wildlife to Asia.
“The Mozambican government has the mandate to put forward the strategic framework for crime and violence prevention,” Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) said in a report.
The report said inequality, corruption, organised crime, high number of street dwellers, a weak justice system and youth unemployment have contributed to high crime levels.
The crimes have caused panic in the relatively calm southern African nation which is a popular tourist destination.
“Escalating levels of crime and violence are a serious threat to human development, democratic institutions and good governance throughout much of the world, including Mozambique.”
The southern Maputo capital and central Sofala province are some of the most crime-ridden regions of the country.
The lobby group said armed robberies are the major concern for most Mozambicans, “although levels of domestic violence and child abuse are also estimated to be extremely high”.
Authorities believe they are dealing with organised crime syndicates with international links.
In June, a local paper reported police had detained 22 people implicated in at least 14 kidnappings of wealthy Muslims for ransom since last year.
One family reportedly paid out two million dollars in ransom for the release of an elderly relative who is a prominent member of the Ismaili Muslim community.
Mozambique is also turning into a trafficking corridor for poached African wildlife to Asia.
At least two Vietnamese men were arrested attempting to smuggle out elephant tusks and rhino horns this year.
Rhino horns are prized in Asian traditional medicine and believed that they can cure cancer.
The soaring demand has driven poaching to record levels in neighbouring South Africa, home to most of the world's remaining rhinos. - Sapa-AFP