Benjamin Badibanga Mwindilayi, 18, was about to finish high school when he was shot dead at a shop in front of his family home in Kingabwa, in northeast Kinshasa, at around 11 am on 21 January 2018. He has been sent to buy sugar when he was shot in the mouth by security officers on motorbikes and died instantly.
That day peaceful demonstrations had been organized across the country by the Lay Coordination Committee, an association affiliated with the Catholic Church, to call on the DRC authorities to organize the then much-delayed elections, by December 2017.
When the family tried to take Benjamin’s body to the morgue at Saint Joseph Hospital, they were warned by bystanders that the security forces blocking the roads could confiscate it. The family then took his body to the MONUSCO military base nearby. They were advised by the staff there to take the body to another hospital called Hôpital du Cinquantenaire. On their arrival, hospital authorities refused to take Benjamin’s body because he had died of a gunshot wound. The family, accompanied by UN and Red Cross staff took Benjamin’s body to Kinshasa General Hospital. According to accounts by family members, his body was left on the floor of the morgue at this public hospital for days.
Requests to embalm his body were initially rejected by the authorities. When the Prosecutor finally authorized the embalming on 30 January, the body had was almost decomposed. They took Benjamin’s body for mourning for a night at the family house. They had to use long-burning joss sticks to reduce the bad smell of his decomposed body.
Benjamin was buried on 3 February 2018.
The family submitted a letter submitted to the ministry of human rights. No official or judicial authority has ever visited Benjamin’s family. To the family’s knowledge, there was no investigation into his death.
When Amnesty visited Benjamin’s mother in 2018, she said: “My child did not attend any demonstration. They came for him at home.” On a later visit in August 2019, her pain was still fresh as she once again showed Amnesty staff the electrical fittings he has installed, and the plumbing work he used to do in the family house.
Benjamin was killed by those who were supposed to protect him.