“The Church has suggested looking at negotiations and dialogue and other peaceful interventions because the Bible says violence begets violence,” Mr. Viljoen says in the interview that was published on Monday, January 16.
The latest incident, he says, also serves to vindicate the position of the Mozambicans who he says have always been opposed to activities of the forces fighting suspected Al-Shabaab militias in Cabo Delgado.
DHPI, which has been researching the evolution of the six-year conflict in Mozambique, has always heard two distinct narratives in its reports, Mr. Viljoen says.
On the one hand, is how the Mozambicans see the violence themselves, and on the other hand, is what the rest of the world has to say about it, he says.
“Local people have consistently said that the violence is an attempt to move them out of their land while the rest of the society says that it is Islamic jihad,” he says, adding that Mozambicans have also found soldiers to fuel violence in the embattled province.
The DHPI Director says that the foundation traveled extensively throughout Mozambique last November and got first-hand accounts of locals who expressed their disgruntlement about the military operations in the country.
Locals told the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) that SANDF soldiers are committing untold atrocities, including sexually abusing war victims.
“People in Mozambique are not too impressed by forces,” he says, adding, “South African troops are involved in soliciting for sex from teenage girls, they smuggle precious stones from the area and most of them are drunk most of the time.”
Mr. Viljoen says that the forces have been seen sitting on the beach drinking beer and not doing much.
He notes that while the military has consistently issued press statements indicating their victories and the gains they have made against the militants, locals have a different narrative.