Maputo — Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) has arrested four individuals, suspected of being members of an organized criminal gang, whose activities, conducted from the Ressano Garcia border post, consisted of the forgery of negative results for Covid-19 tests for travel purposes.
SERNIC spokesperson Hilario Lole said two suspects were arrested in mid-March and the others on Monday in Maputo.
« After the investigations launched to obtain more details about the existing network which issued forged negative results for Covid-19 tests, SERNIC issued arrest warrants against four people aged between 28 and 45 years. Three of them are health workers, » Lole told reporters at a press conference to share the outcome of the investigation about the false tests.
He said the individuals face criminal charges including forgery of documents, corruption and membership of a criminal association.
« There is enough evidence of the involvement of these individuals in the forgery and sale of negative tests for Covid-19, for which they charged between 3,000 and 3,500 meticais (between 50 and 60 US dollars, at current exchange rates) for each test, » Lole explained, adding that the payments were made via bank transfer.
Two of the detainees, identified only as Felisberto and Teodato, denied any forgery. They said they work at the Jose Macamo General Hospital in Maputo, where they « facilitated » colleagues to take the Covid-19 test. They insisted these were real tests not fakes.
They admitted that they had received money, but claimed this was a « gratification », and not a bribe for falsifying results.