Policeman Shoots Student For Not Wearing Mask In DR Congo

A photo collage of a gun and facemask.

 

A Democratic Republic of Congo policeman has shot a student who was not wearing a mask while filming on the streets of the capital, witnesses said on Sunday.

“Our friend Honore Shama, a student in the faculty of arts at the University of Kinshasa, was filming a video as part of his acting practical work requirement,” Patient Odia, a friend who was present at the confrontation, told AFP.

“A policeman told him to wear a mask during the filming.”

“Despite his (Shama’s) explanations and after having showed him a mask, the policeman, who was expecting to be offered money, became infuriated, accused him of resisting and shot him at point-blank range.”

Other witnesses told a similar story to the popular Top Congo radio as well as several online news sites.

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The policeman responsible has fled and the city’s police are searching for him, the head of Kinshasa police, General Sylvano Kasongo, told AFP.

“Police have detained two police officers, present during the incident provoked by their irresponsible colleague… as well as the head” of a local police station, he said.

“The search continues to find the fugitive policeman,” Kasongo said.

Wearing a mask is obligatory in DR Congo, with transgressors fined 10,000 Congolese frances (five dollars, four euros).

In Kinshasa, police are regularly accused of harassment and of pocketing the mask fines they collect.

DR Congo has registered 47,786 Covid-19 cases and 1,021 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Vaccinations have been halted in the country since July 10, because the AstraZeneca vaccines in stock passed their expiration date.

AFP

16 Civilians Killed In Suspected Militia Attack In DR Congo

DR Congo map

 

Suspected members of an Islamist militia killed 16 people as they were returning from a weekly market in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), local and medical sources said Friday.

The dead from the ambush on Thursday evening included six women and a child, all of whom were shot, Jerome Munyambethe, head of the hospital in the town of Oicha, told AFP.

“We have seven bodies in the hospital morgue,” town mayor Nicolas Kikuku said.

He said another nine wounded were being treated at the hospital.

The attack occurred on a highway between the towns of Maimoya and Chani-chani, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city of Beni in North Kivu province.

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In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, 2020, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). (Photo by Alexis Huguet / AFP)

 

The Oicha region is a hotbed of attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the deadliest of scores of armed militias roaming the mineral-rich eastern DRC.

In March, the United States said the ADF — historically a Ugandan Islamist group that has holed up in the region since 1995 — was linked to the Islamic State jihadist group.

North Kivu and the neighbouring province of Ituri have been placed under a so-called state of siege since May 6 to fight various armed groups which terrorise civilians.

President Felix Tshisekedi replaced senior civilian officials there with army and police officers.

But Lewis Saliboko, a civil society official in Oicha, complained that the new measures had failed to curb the attacks.

“What is the point of this state of siege when we continue to have massacres?” he said. “(…) There are no operations, there are no additional forces.”

AFP

UNESCO Removes DR Congo Park From Endangered List

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo scored a key heritage victory on Monday as UNESCO removed one of its nature reserves from a list of threatened sites, the UN agency said.

UNESCO praised the country’s conservation efforts and the government’s commitment to ban prospecting for oil in Salonga, the vast central African country’s largest public park.

The World Heritage Committee cited “improvements towards its conservation state” in its decision, according to a statement Monday.

“Regular monitoring of the wild fauna shows that the bonobo (ape) populations remain stable within the territory despite past pressure, and that the forest elephant population is starting to come back,” the statement said.

The Congolese environment ministry welcomed the move.

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It would be “an opportunity to rethink the management of the peatland with a view to quantifying its capacity to absorb carbon” emissions, it told AFP in a statement.

Salonga is Africa’s largest protected rainforest and home to 40 percent of the Earth’s bonobo apes, along with several other endangered species.

It was created in 1970 by then dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and had been on the endangered list since 1984.

The park is also home to slender-snouted crocodiles and Congo peacocks.

AFP

Court Releases Former DR Congo PM From Brief House Arrest

Image of DR Congo

 

DR Congo’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday reversed its decision to place former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo under house arrest, his lawyer said.

The former prime minister “is no longer under house arrest… He returned to his home without being accompanied by police,” the lawyer Laurent Onyemba told AFP.

The court’s ruling came just the day after it had imposed the house arrest on Matata pending an investigation into embezzlement charges.

A magistrate, speaking anonymously, told AFP that Matata was not a flight risk and would “now respond to invitations from the prosecution as a free man”.

In May prosecutors asked parliament to lift the immunity granted to Matata in his new role as a senator so that he could face a probe over alleged corruption.

At the time the senate voted against lifting immunity, saying that the Constitutional Court which made the request was not empowered to try a parliamentarian.

For criminal proceedings in DR Congo, senators come under the jurisdiction of the Court of Cassation.

But on July 5, six members of the Senate office agreed to a demand by the prosecutor of the Constitutional Court to remove Matata’s parliamentary immunity.

Onyemba had responded to the original court decision to place his client under house arrest by saying it was a political decision.

The lawyer said the court was accusing the former PM of having ordered the payment of more than $110 million (93 million euros) to fictitious creditors and alleged victims of “Zaireanisation.”

Launched in the 1970s by then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seka, Zaireanisation entailed expropriating the assets of foreign entrepreneurs but without compensation.

The allegations are “false down the line,” Onyemba said.

Matata was minister of finance and then prime minister in the government of Joseph Kabila from 2010 until 2016.

In November, the IGF state spending watchdog reported that the equivalent of $205 million (173 million euros) had been plundered out of $285 million disbursed for a pilot agro-industrial scheme in Bukangalonzo, 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of the capital.

The IGF implicated Matata in its report, saying he was the “intellectual author” of the crime.

He denied the accusations and lodged a complaint against the IGF’s head and three other financial investigators over “slanderous” claims.

-AFP

At Least 20 Killed In DR Congo Clash

In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
File photo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) troops taking part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

 

At least 20 people have been killed in fighting between armed groups and troops in Democratic Republic of Congo troops eastern highlands, a military source said. 

In fighting on Saturday and Sunday between DR Congo troops and the Makanika-Twigwaneho-Ngumino coalition of armed groups, “the provisional toll is five soldiers killed, and on the enemy’s side there are 15 dead”, said Captain Dieudonne Kasereka, an army spokesman in eastern South Kivu region.

“Loyalists recaptured their positions in the center of Minembwe and its surroundings at around 10 am on Sunday.

Because of these clashes, “the population has dispersed in all directions”, he said, adding that people should now return as the “situation is under (the)  control” of the army.

“Ngomino elements were also ambushed in Lwiko (2 km from Minembwe),” a UN source told AFP, without confirming the figure of 15 assailants killed as given by the army.

The Hauts Plateaux region is the scene of a conflict between armed groups formed on a communal basis, notably Tutsi Congolese with distant Rwandan origins, the Banyamulenge, and other communities.

On Saturday, from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm (0300 to 1500 GMT), loud bangs were reported in the city of Minembwe and its surroundings, the attackers having approached “up to one km from the headquarters of the army before being repulsed”, according to the army.

“A UN source told AFP that senior FARDC officers had spent the night (Saturday to Sunday) in the base of the UN Mission in the DRC (Monusco).

On Sunday morning “fighting was still going on”, according to a FARDC officer who was answering a question from AFP while directing operations at the front.

The coalition “Twigwaneho” (self-defence) and “Ngumino” (We Stay Here in Kinyamulenge) is composed of members of the Banyamulenge community.

These armed groups were joined by Colonel Michel Rukundo Makanika who deserted the army in early 2020 with a group of soldiers.

22 Die In Eastern DR Congo Violence

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

At least 14 civilians have been killed in fresh violence in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo and eight others suspected of collaborating with a notorious armed group have been lynched, sources said on Monday.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), an NGO which monitors violence in eastern DRC Congo, said at least 14 people were killed last Friday in three locations in Djugu territory, Ituri province, by assailants from a group called CODECO-URDPC.

Desire Malodra, a local civil society leader, said 15 people in the Djugu area died on Friday and Saturday in clashes between the DRC army and CODECO militiamen.

CODECO — for Cooperative for the Development of the Congo — is an armed political-religious sect that claims to defend the Lendu ethnic group.

It is one of more 120 armed groups that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of bloody wars more than a quarter of a century ago.

The Lendu, mainly farmers, have been in historic conflict with the Hema community who are predominantly herders.

Tens of thousands of people on both sides died in a savage war between 1999 and 2003.

Violence returned in December 2017. CODECO has since been linked to more than 1,000 deaths.

A little further south, in Irumu territory, the army said eight civilians were “publicly lynched” on Thursday in Komanda, a town 75 kilometres (45 miles) south of the Ituri capital Bunia.

“We condemn (this) mob justice,” Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, the army spokesman in Ituri, told AFP.

The eight were from the Banyabwisha community, an ethnic group of Congolese Hutus with Rwandan roots.

In early June, the government accused members of the Banyabwisha community of “complicity” with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a notorious Islamist armed group, following the massacre of some 50 civilians in Irumu territory.

The army urged the population not to “take justice into their own hands” but instead to inform on accomplices of armed groups so that the security forces could deal with them.

Gold-rich Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province have been placed under a “state of siege” by President Felix Tshisekedi, who has vowed to clamp down on the violence.

AFP

DR Congo City Closes Schools, Markets After Weekend Bombs

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

The eastern DR Congo city of Beni on Monday closed its schools, markets and churches for 48 hours after three bomb attacks over the weekend sparked fears of further violence.

The attacks included the first targeting a Catholic Church building and the first suicide bombing in the region, which has declared a “state of siege” after a string of massacres carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia.

Beni Mayor Narcisse Muteba announced a curfew late Sunday, saying that “everyone should go inside because we have information that something else is being planned”.

On Monday Muteba ordered all schools, churches and markets closed for two days.

“I don’t want to see any crowds, but we are calling on everyone to remain calm,” he said in a statement.

Muteba, a police colonel who replaced the city’s civilian leader a few weeks ago, also asked that anyone wanting to enter Beni carry their identity papers.

The measures come after a makeshift bomb went off in a Catholic church in Beni on Sunday morning, injuring two women, followed just hours later by a suicide bombing outside a bar.

The day before, a bomb exploded next to a petrol station on the outskirts of Beni without causing any damage.

The army said that the suicide bomber was “a Ugandan citizen who went by the name Ngudi Abdallah, and was very active alongside his leader, the sinister Amigo,” an ADF commander.

The army asked Beni residents to “report any suspicious movement, to dissociate themselves from the armed groups and to rally behind the armed forces”.

– ‘Boom’ –

The attack at the church in predominantly Catholic Beni took place just an hour before a children’s confirmation ceremony was due to be held.

“I had just entered the church, I hadn’t even managed to sit down, I heard ‘boom’… Blood started flowing from my mouth,” one of the women wounded in the blast, Antoinette Kavira, told AFP from her hospital bed.

Beni is in the North Kivu province, one of two regions that President Felix Tshisekedi placed under a “state of siege” on May 6 in a bid to clamp down on militia violence.

The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.

Historically a Ugandan Islamist group, it has holed up in eastern DRC since 1995.

The ADF is accused of having killed 6,000 people since 2013, according to the Catholic episcopate.

And the Kivu Security Tracker monitor says it has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.

In March, the United States said the ADF was linked to the Islamic State group.

AFP

Two Injured In Church Bomb Blast In Eastern DR Congo

A photo of the DR Congo flag.

 

A makeshift bomb exploded inside a Catholic church in the city of Beni in DR Congo’s conflict-plagued east on Sunday, injuring two just an hour before a children’s Confirmation ceremony was due to be held.

The head of police in Beni’s town hall Narcisse Muteba Kashale told AFP that the explosion occurred at 6:00 am (0400 GMT) and that experts from the UN’s mission to DR Congo had said: “it is a home-made bomb, a bomb that was set up for an ambush”.

Beni’s vicar general Laurent Sondirya said two people were injured in the blast, which went off before crowds would have gathered to attend the Confirmation ceremony.

“They were targeting a large crowd because the ceremony would bring together children, their parents and the faithful,” he told AFP, adding that “mass would not be postponed”.

Traces of blood could be seen at the entrance to the church in the aftermath of the explosion, an AFP reporter said, while shards of glass were scattered inside and the sound equipment was destroyed.

It marks the first time a building belonging to the Catholic Church, the city’s largest religion, has been directly targeted in Beni territory, where the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia is accused of killing 6,000 people since 2013, according to the Catholic episcopate.

Two imams in Beni known for speaking out against the ADF violence were shot dead in May, one inside the city’s mosque and the other after evening prayers.

The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 120 armed militia groups that roam the mineral-rich east of the vast central African country, many of them a legacy of two regional wars from 1996 to 2003.

It is historically a Ugandan Islamist group that has holed up in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995.

The ADF is accused of killing hundreds of civilians since launching operations from a base in the jungle around Beni in November 2019.

In March, the United States said the ADF was linked to the Islamic State group.

DR Congo Court Cuts Jail Term For Ex-Presidential Aide

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.gavel

 

A former presidential aide in DR Congo who had been sentenced to 20 years in a high-profile corruption case has had his term reduced by seven years on appeal, his lawyer said.

Vital Kamerhe, 62, who was also a former speaker of the National Assembly, was sentenced last June for embezzling nearly $50 million (44 million euros) of public funds.

“The sentence has been reduced to 13 years,” Kamerhe’s attorney Jean-Marie Kabengela told AFP late Tuesday after a decision by an appeal court in the capital Kinshasa.

Kamerhe, who has his own political party, was a major figure in national politics before dramatically falling from grace.

He had been an early contender in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections in December 2018.

But he cut a deal with fellow candidate Felix Tshisekedi under which he pulled out of the race and campaigned alongside him.

He was then appointed chief of staff after Tshisekedi became president in January 2019.

He and a prominent Lebanese businessman, Jammal Samih, were accused of siphoning off funds earmarked for building 1,500 social housing units under a programme announced by Tshisekedi after his inauguration.

Samih’s sentence was cut from 20 years to six, Kabengela said. A third defendant who had been sentenced to two years saw his jail term reduced to one year.

Kamerhe’s case became the emblem of the president’s proclaimed crackdown on DR Congo’s endemic corruption.

He was sentenced to forced labour, a term that remains on DR Congo’s statute books but is not implemented.

Kamerhe has insisted that he was the victim of a “political trial” to prevent him from running for president in 2023.

His appeal began last August, but proceedings were repeatedly postponed.

A pro-Kamerhe demonstration in Kinshasa late Tuesday was dispersed by police, witnesses said.

AFP

Nightclubs Shut As DR Congo Hit By Third COVID-19 Wave

A DR Congo flag.

 

Nightclubs in DR Congo must close and funeral wakes will be banned for two weeks in the face of the third wave of Covid cases, President Felix Tshisekedi said Tuesday.

Speaking in the eastern city of Goma, Tshisekedi said he hoped the measures will be effective, notably against the “highly contagious” Delta variant first detected in India.

The vast central African country of at least 80 million people has had fewer than 40,000 cases and a total of 854 deaths since March 2020.

But daily cases have risen with 250 new infections recorded on Tuesday including 218 in the capital Kinshasa.

Tshisekedi said a nighttime curfew from 10 pm to 5 am will remain in effect, “with military patrols, (and) violators will be severely punished.”

Funeral wakes — a mainstay of Congolese social life — were also prohibited during the first wave of the pandemic in the former Belgian colony.

Tshisekedi also urged the Congolese to get vaccinated — the country has received 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca and hopes to receive Pfizer, Russian and Chinese jabs.

The surge in Covid has forced the authorities to postpone a tribute to Patrice Lumumba, a revolutionary figure who helped steer the former Belgian Congo to independence.

The DRC’s first post-colonial prime minister was executed by separatists in the region of Katanga who were backed by Belgian mercenaries.

A Belgian policeman admitted dissolving Lumumba’s body in acid to get rid of the evidence of the crime but said he had kept a tooth.

The relic was to be handed over in a ceremony in Brussels on June 21 and then displayed in several DRC towns before being buried.

The tribute will now take place on January 8-17 2022, culminating on the 61st anniversary of his death, Tshisekedi said on Sunday.

Widow Of Top DR Congo General Detained Again After Murder Acquittal

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

 

The wife of a former Democratic Republic of Congo intelligence chief who died in unclear circumstances last year said Wednesday she had been detained again, days after being acquitted of his murder.

Security forces “arrived at my home yesterday and took me and my mother to the Gombe prosecutors’ office, where I spent the night”, Brenda Nkoy told AFP by phone, referring to a district of capital Kinshasa.

Nkoy was married to intelligence boss and former deputy head of the armed forces Delphin Kahimbi, a right-hand man to Joseph Kabila, who ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo with an iron fist for 18 years until 2019.

Her lawyer Mulumba Tshivuadi told AFP that she was “accused of an escape attempt that supposedly happened on May 30, eight days before she was acquitted”.

Nkoy was one of a dozen people acquitted of murder on Monday by the judges. Prosecutors had been calling for the death penalty.

Her husband, the former military intelligence chief, died suddenly at age 50 on February 28 last year. He had been under European Union sanctions over rights violations.

At the time, Nkoy said Kahimbi had died of a heart attack, but incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi said soon afterwards he had been “hanged”.

Fresh Violence In DR Congo Leaves At Least 11 Dead

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, 2020, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)
Alexis Huguet / AFP

 

At least 11 people were killed by an armed group in eastern DR Congo, sources said Thursday, bringing the troubled region’s death toll to at least 70 since the start of the week, according to an AFP tally.

Eleven miners in the gold-rich territory of Djugu, in the northeastern province of Ituri, were killed early Wednesday by a local group called the FPIC, Mungwalu district mayor Jean-Pierre Pikilisende told AFP.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a respected NGO that monitors violence in eastern DR Congo, said 12 people had been executed.

Pikilisende said the militia had come to take control over the area, whose gold is mined by poor artisanal diggers.

Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province have been placed under a “state of siege” — a government attempts to stem escalating violence by replacing civilian officials with senior army or police officers.

Fifty-three people were killed overnight Sunday in two Ituri villages, in the region’s worst one-day massacre in recent history, sources there told an AFP correspondent.

The journalist said 21 died in Tshabi and another 32 in Boga, where a camp for displaced people was targeted.

Eighty-four shacks in the camp were torched, as were eight stores in nearby Boga, the reporter saw. Fifteen homes were burned in Tshabi.

A number of villagers, including at least four women, were kidnapped.

The identity of the attackers remains unclear, as the massacres took place in an area notorious for ethnic tension and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group that has been linked to the so-called Islamic State.

The ADF has the bloodiest reputation of the estimated 122 armed groups that roam eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), many of them a legacy of wars more than a quarter-century ago.

Five other people were killed early Tuesday, and several others, including children, are missing.

On Wednesday, an old man was beheaded in the village of Bulire, near Boga, and two people went missing, a local administrative official said.

As of Friday, the KST estimated that at least 1,228 civilians have been killed in Beni territory of North Kivu alone since November 2019, when DRC’s armed forces launched a crackdown, splintering the ADF into smaller groups.

-AFP