MAPUTO, June 10– Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi says the government is working with the South African authorities to discover the real cause of the death in South African police custody last week of a Mozambican citizen, Justica Malate.
Malate was detained by the police in Daveyton, about 80 kilometres east of johannesburg, on the night of May 31. He was thrown into the police cells supposedly for public drunkenness and resisting arrest. A few hours later he was dead.
What made matters worse, said Baloi, was that Malate died in the same cell where another Mozambican, taxi driver Mido Macie, was murdered by the South African police in 2013.
“Something is definitely wrong here. But we are on the ground working”, Baloi told a media conference held to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Mozambican diplomatic service.
The Mozambican authorities have asked for an autopsy on Malate’s body, and are waiting for the laboratory results. Baloi said the Mozambican consulate in South Africa had sought a lawyer for Malate’s family, who were the first to accuse the police of murder, after observing the state of the body.
Despite the deaths in police custody of Macie and Malate, and despite the wave of xenophobic attacks earlier this year against foreigners living in South Africa, Baloi said that relations between the two countries remain normal.
He added that the visit of South African President Jacob Zuma to Mozambique last month had been useful in re-affirming normal relations, and in establishing greater co-ordination in solving problems.
“In all relations, there are always problems. In our relations with South African we have always had problems. President Zuma’s visit allowed us to consolidate and to find other forms of work. One of our decisions was that bilateral inter-ministerial work must be stepped up,” said Baloi.