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Tonight, I am sleeping at the police station

July 29, 2015  —  Mozambique
Ilha de Ibo - Quirimbas National Park - Mozambique

I wanted to sleep on the side of the road like I did so many times, but local people were afraid that I was a thief… Around twenty people, with a police officer, descended upon me all at the same time. Since I did not understand what they were saying, they were discussing loudly between themselves. They were shouting, arguing, and laughing.

After about 1 hour, a police squad arrives (5 police officers + 1 chief) armed with machine guns. I was completely astonished and impatient since I was tired. In the beginning, I was not very cooperative, but after being threatened of bringing me by force, I accepted to go to the police station… with three police officers inside my van.

Once there, the chief asked me for my documents and after 15 minutes, he told me that I could sleep in front of the police station in my van. He was saying it is for my security. He is forcing me to stay there by keeping my document until the next morning. Maybe it is not corruption but it is an abuse of authority.

The next day, after a few hours of waiting, I met the chief of police. Officially, I have been arrested for refusing to follow them in the beginning. They are very strict and one must obey them even if it does not make any sense. I guess the 25 years of civil war left their marks. Villagers do not like to see a car around their community. They are afraid of thieves, child kidnappers, and killers that cut some parts from their victims and carry them back in the vehicle. This chief told me that all those things are possible in Mozambique.

Thus, after the conversation and closing the file (yes, I have a police file in Mozambique), I managed to get back all my papers. Just before leaving, they searched the car and they looked in the fridge. Fortunately, there were no body parts.


Police and army control points

In many African countries, there are many police controls. I never had any problems with these controls since my papers have always been in good order. In Mozambique, controls are frequent, but the people doing them are very annoying.

In addition to checking the papers, there are army guys who want to search inside the car. It's very annoying since it happens 5-6 times a day. After a while, one starts to be fed up with all this.

Around Gurué, I was controlled since they thought I could be trafficking precious stones. In fact, I met a guy in Gurué that was selling some. Do you want his phone number? I still have it...

After visiting the Niassa Reserve, they were searching the car to see if I had any hunting trophies.

Once, after a police control, I stopped under the shade of a tree on the side of the road for a quick lunch. A police car passed by and guess what? They stopped, they checked all my papers, and they searched the car... What a constant harassment.

With my minibus, I always looked like a local person mostly everywhere. I think that, in Mozambique, being a solo person travelling in a van may seem shady. It leaves a bad aftertaste of Mozambique.