I have mentioned before that December is normally a particularly busy time for theft. I have also heard recently that January is a bad month as well since people need money for school registration. It certainly seems to be the case.
Before Christmas break, my Portuguese teacher’s cell phone was stolen out of his bag.
On the way to Mesa’s funeral, a colleague’s cell phone was stolen from his pocket.
Last week, Samuel, one of my teammates, arrived at the office with bruises and scabs on his head. Over the weekend, he had been walking near his house at night when a group of guys with metal pipes came up to him demanding his cell phone. He tried to get away before they could take his money as well, but they beat him over the head with the pipes.
A few weeks earlier, Remigio, another teammate was beaten with metal pipes and his cell phone taken.
Also last week my teammate, Jill, received a text from a pastor friend in another town who told her that he and his wife had been to the bank to take out their monthly salary to go buy food and other supplies for the month. When they got to the market, they realized all their money was gone.
Another pastor friend informed us that he too had been to the bank to take out money. When he got home, his daughter asked him why his trousers were cut. Someone had cut his wallet out of his pocket, taking his money and his ID card. Fortunately, he did not have that much money in his wallet, but in Mozambique it can take up to a year of bureaucratic hassle to get a new ID card. And if police stop someone without ID, he or she needs to pay a “fine” (bribe).
These are not white people being targeted because they look wealthy. These are all Mozambicans. They are Mozambicans who do not have disposable income to go out and buy new cell phones or go back to the bank to take out more cash for monthly supplies. They also do not have the luxury, as I do, to call a taxi or a friend with a car after dark to take them home safely.
Mozambique is not easy or safe for anyone, but it is less easy and safe for some than others.