Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Mozambique’s President pardons young men who insulted him in viral video

Meeting between the president and the pardoned young men – screenshot TVM – 16 February  2021, by the author.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi pardoned on February 16 two individuals who had appeared in a video insulting him after the case became widely discussed in the country.

In the video, two men who were stuck in a traffic jam in Maputo minutes before the start of the curfew — which was put in place in the Mozambican capital on February 4 — complain about the restrictive measures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using insults, the two criticize the curfew given the chaotic traffic situation and place the blame on the president.

STV screenshot –  police arrest citizen accused of defaming the Mozambican president – 12 February 2020, by the author.

The video went viral on social media and was even broadcast by the STV television channel. Subsequently, the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) opened an investigation against the two men for the crime of slander, leading to the arrest of one of them, Betelson J., on February 12.

Three days later, according to the outlet Notícias, Betelson was released after a judge accepted a request from the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) arguing that the crime of slander requires a complaint filed by the offended party, which in this case would be the Mozambican president. OAM also pointed out that the preventive detention should have been made in flagrante delicto.

The next day, and to everybody's great surprise, the president invited the two men to his office for a private audience. Journalist Omardine Omar reported:

O Presidente da República, Filipe Nyusi, recebeu hoje os dois jovens que há dias proferiram palavras ofensivas contra o Chefe do Estado, através de um vídeo posto a circular nas redes sociais. Refira-se que o Presidente Nyusi decidiu convidar os dois jovens para um diálogo, onde na ocasião manifestou o seu perdão perante a atitude pública dos referidos jovens.

Após serem recebidos pelo estadista, estes afirmaram-se arrependidos e que agradecem o gesto do Chefe do Estado, explicando que a medida emanada no Decreto do Conselho de Ministros visa proteger a população das áreas abrangidas pelo recolher obrigatório, visto que a Região do Grande Maputo apresenta um quadro preocupante de contaminações por COVID-19.

Today, the President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, received the two young men who a few days ago made offensive remarks about the head of state in a video that was shared on social media. President Nyusi decided to invite the two young men for a discussion, where he expressed his forgiveness for their public behaviour.

After being received by the president, they said they were sorry and that they were grateful for the head of state's gesture, explaining that the measure taken in the Council of Ministers’ Decree aims to protect the population of the areas covered by the curfew, given that the Greater Maputo Region is presenting a worrying situation regarding contamination by COVID-19.

The case was widely discussed on social media in Mozambique from the beginning, with many criticizing or welcoming the authorities’ response. The academic Boa Monjane, for example, questioned the arrest of one of the men:

É ofensa ou crime contra a segurança do Estado chamar um presidente corrupto de ladrão?
Só num regime dictatorial.

Is it an offence or crime against state security to call a corrupt president a thief?
Only in a dictatorial regime.

The economist Roberto Tibana, on the other hand, said that the two men's behaviour should have been subject to criminal conviction:

As pessoas que se indignam com a detenção do jovem que insultou o Chefe de Estado, ou não viram o vídeo todo (a Stv sanitizou-o demais!), ou são hipócritas, ou são populistas demains para a saúde da sociedade!

É totalmente inadmissível o que foi dito e postado por aqueles jovens, seja em termos de princípios morais, seja por lei. O Chefe de Estado, o Presidente Nyusi, merece o nosso respeito como pessoa e como personificação da soberania do Estado Moçambicano.

Uma coisa é criticar, outra coisa é insultar. Não pode haver desculpas para obscenidades atiradas daquela maneira contra o Chefe de Estado. Que a moral e a lei prevaleçam. Que haja pudor!

People who are indignant about the arrest of the young man who insulted the head of state have either not seen the whole video (STV sanitized it too much!), or are hypocrites, or are too populist for a healthy society!

What was said and posted by those young men is totally unacceptable, either in terms of moral principles or the law. The head of state, President Nyusi, deserves our respect as a person and as an embodiment of the Mozambican state's sovereignty.

It is one thing to criticize, but another to insult. There can be no excuse for obscenities directed in that way at the head of state. May morality and the law prevail. May there be modesty!

The decision to release Betelson was praised by Bitone Viage, who at the same time called for the justice system to take action in other more pressing cases:

Parabéns aos advogados da Causa, Dr Ericino de Salema e Dr Benny Matchole Khossa, excelente e oportuna intervenção.

O país precisa tanto de figuras dessa natureza, sobretudo num contexto em que assistimos diariamente violações dos nossos direitos, e a justiça tem se comportado como uma serpente que simplesmente pica aos pés descalços.

Não consigo entender com tantos casos que mexem diretamente com a vida econômica do país, as nossas instituições de justiça não conseguem resolver os mesmo, contudo quando se trata de um inocente esfarrapado, um indivíduo não ofensivo ao Estado, as nossas instituições são funcionais e com uma celeridade de abrandar os céus.

Que tal termos o mesmo nível de celeridade com o processo das dívidas ocultas, um processo que até hoje os seus impactos são notáveis?

Congratulations to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Dr Ericino de Salema and Dr Benny Matchole Khossa, excellent and timely contribution.

The country really needs figures like this, especially in a context where we are witnessing violations of our rights on a daily basis, and the justice system has behaved like a snake that simply snaps at people's bare feet.

I cannot understand how, with so many cases that directly affect the country's economic life, our institutions of justice cannot resolve them, but when it’s a case of a ragged-clothed innocent, an individual who is not offensive to the state, our institutions are functional and [act] with a swiftness that would calm the heavens.

How about having the same level of swiftness for the trial of the hidden debts, a trial that to this day still has a significant impact?

After the president's gesture, Bitone Viage again criticized the police's actions and demanded better:

Oficialmente perdoados pelo Presidente da República.

Bem- haja o gesto, o SERNIC deveria emitir um comunicado a fazer o mesmo, se querem mostrar trabalho existe muitos casos por aí que carecem de investigação. Que os meios do Estado sejam usados para coisas sérias.

Officially pardoned by the president of the republic.

Thanks for the gesture, SERNIC [National Criminal Investigation Service] should issue a statement doing the same, if they want to show that they are working, there are many cases out there that are lacking investigation. May state resources be used for serious matters.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site