At A glance Mozambique looks like a tropical getaway, with pristine white sand and clear blue sea. It's a place for divers and backpackers and is said to have some of the most romantic and secluded beaches in the world.

But the African country is undeveloped, untamed, and it has a dark sinister side.

Just last week Melbourne adventurer Elly Warren was found dead in a toilet block near a marketplace in the country. It's still a mystery what happened to her, but there have been suggestions she was raped and murdered.

Her father Paul Warren said on Saturday he was certain she had been murdered by suffocation.


"I have come to South Africa to bring my beautiful daughter, Elly, home," Mr Warren said in a statement.

"Based on the facts I now know, I am absolutely certain that my daughter has been murdered by suffocation."

She was reportedly snatched while returning alone to her beachfront backpackers accommodation after attending a party.

But police in Mozambique told Fairfax Media the 20-year-old didn't have a scratch or bruise on her indicating violence or rape.

Elly was due to return home to Australia to her family and boyfriend just days after she died and her family, still in the dark about Elly's final moments, are seeking answers about what really happened to her.

Mozambique looks tropical at a glance. Photo / 123rf
Mozambique looks tropical at a glance. Photo / 123rf

Elly was hesitant about travelling to Mozambique to dive, knowing it was dangerous, and a number of messages have been left on tourism site TripAdvisor warning others about a notorious and dangerous gang that casts a shadow over Mozambique's beauty.

A Mozambique local wrote on the site home invasions and petty theft were common and warned people not to walk on the beach at night as it was too dangerous.

Another tourist warned Tofo, a small town in southeastern Mozambique, was home to the Beach Boys, a treacherous gang that often lurked at bars and backpackers.
The traveller said they were on the hunt for easy prey.


"They generally have dreadlocks and sell drugs," the tourist said.

"The local police are either paid off or informed by the Beach Boys of impending sales. The tourist is then arrested and has to pay enormous bribes to get out of charges."

The traveller said the Beach Boys were manipulative, and would befriend tourists in the area.

"Once they know when the tourist will leave Tofo, the tourist is robbed on the night before their departure. With international flights pending, although the case may be reported to the police, nothing happens as the victim has to depart.

"Also be careful in local bars as drinks can be laced with drugs that cause amnesia and unsolicited sexual encounters."

Another tourist from south London also warned other travellers about the Beach Boys.

He visited Mozambique in 2011 and said he made friends with the gang.

"They speak perfect English ... but are extremely dangerous," he said.

"They prey on females in particular."

During his last night in Tofo, his phone was stolen.

"Ladies take care. Many of them have numerous girlfriends from overseas as their aim is probably to make it overseas," he warned.

Australian Andy Stevenson visited Mozambique with friends in 2013 and they found themselves in a struggle with the Beach Boys.

"We were warned about them - we had a Mozambique guide with us though - but one night we went out, our whole group was caught in between a bunch of white South Africans and these Beach Boys who were having a fight," he told

"We walked out of the bar at the wrong time and a beer bottle was thrown and it hit one of the girls in our group in the head and split her open."

Travel safety expert at Travel Insurance Direct, Phil Sylvester, said the reports of the Beach Boys were concerning.

"It's sad to discover that some low-lifes are willing to take advantage of Mozambique's reputation as a friendly and welcoming destination, for their own gain," he told

"Sadly, warnings about high levels of crime have been applied to Mozambique for
many years. There are longstanding alerts about the dangers of frequenting remote beaches or walking alone at night. It shouldn't be that way, but that's the reality for visitors.

"Whether one of these 'Beach Boys' is involved in Elly's death or not, hopefully
time and a thorough investigation will reveal. But we hope the publicity surrounding their activities will prompt the authorities to act and make Tofo beach as safe as possible for all visitors to enjoy."

Elly Warren was diving in Mozambique. Photo / Facebook
Elly Warren was diving in Mozambique. Photo / Facebook

Sylvester said the Beach Boys phenomenon was not unique to Mozambique and said Jamaica was also notorious for them.

"There are plenty around Cancun, Mexico, and you will still find them in Bali among other places," he said.

"Usually their motivation is to get nothing more than a few free drinks, a fun time, and some intimate friendships with pretty foreign girls.

"They might earn a few dollars by encouraging travellers to visit a certain bar or restaurant, but in countries where unemployment is high and the weather is warm, it's an attractive way to earn a living and make friends from around the world."

A crime and safety report by OSAC, the United State's bureau of diplomatic safety, found drugs, violence and kidnapping were rampant in Mozambique.

"Assailants often use forceful tactics, operate in organised groups, and carry weapons that increase the possibility of physical harm. Expatriates are frequent targets due to their perceived wealth," the report said.

In 2015, there was an increase in robberies in Mozambique, which often involved a number of criminals, who brandished knives, machetes and in several cases, guns.

"During the holiday season, December to January, these types of crimes increase in frequency," the report said.

"Porous borders, endemic poverty, and proximity to South African markets makes Mozambique vulnerable to organised criminal elements. Narco-trafficking, human smuggling and trade in illicit/endangered animal products represents a growing threat to stability and security."

The report said in recent years, affluent people of South Asian descent were targeted and kidnapped.

"Although 2015 numbers decreased slightly from 2014 levels, it is believed that some kidnappings go unreported, as suspicions of police involvement have grown," the report said.

"During 2015, kidnapping cases targeted broader groups, including prominent Mozambicans and foreigners. The goal of the kidnappers is the receipt of a ransom for the release of the victim."

Sylvester said the trick to being a smart traveller was knowing where to draw the line.

"Never reveal personal details such as which room you're staying in, or details of your travel plans, or telephone numbers, and never give any bank details," he said.

"If the friendship is genuine the person will understand your caution and not take offence.

"And try not let the romance of your adventure cloud your judgment. When you go away don't let your brain take a holiday too, keep your suspiciousness and radar switched-on to low."