On 25 February 2018, Rossy Tshimanga Mukendi was shot dead by a police officer during a peaceful protest at Saint Benoit parish in Lemba commune, Kinshasa. He was a very active member of pro-democracy youth movements. Witnesses to his killing told Amnesty International that Rossy was targeted by the police. A friend of Rossy who was with him that day told Amnesty that, he was trying to get everyone into the parish compound when he was killed.
“There were eight [police officers]. The way they were coming towards us, they had bad intentions. When they were approaching us, I asked my brother [Rossy] to enter the parish [compound]. He was shot a moment after.”
After being shot, he was taken into the church as his friends and the priest at the parish pondered how to safely get him to the nearest hospital as armed police were still blocking the main exit of the compound. Rossy’s friends decided to take the longer back route first by foot, then using a car they found by chance on the street, whose owner agreed to take them to hospital.
Rossy died five meters from St. Joseph Hospital, according to a friend who was holding his hand and pressing tight onto his wound to stop the bleeding.
The authorities first denied having killed anybody that day. According to the police, the bullets that were fired at Rossy were rubber bullets. This version of events was contradicted by the doctor who inspected Rossy’s body at the hospital. The police subsequently admitted that Rossy was killed, as well as another protester in Mbandaka, Equateur Province, but added that Rossy was a gangster and that he was killed by police in self-defense. Later, the authorities arrested a police officer and presented him as Rossy’s killer and brought him before a military court. Several eyewitness accounts have disputed the identity of the officer presented as Rossy’s killer.
Rossy’s death shook his family to its core. The 35-year-old award-winning martial arts practitioner left two children. He was also an Assistant Professor at the National Pedagogical University. His dad, Fernand Mukendi, passed away two weeks after Rossy’s funeral. On the day of his funeral on 18 May 2018, security forces stopped the funeral procession and confiscated his body for hours.
Arsene Tshimanga, Rossy’s brother, who was with Rossy during the events leading to his death, went into hiding for months after receiving serious threats for his public statements querying whether the man who was arrested was indeed Rossy true killer.
The trial in the Rossy case was suspended in October 2018 at the request of Rossy’s family after the military tribunal hearing his case refused to investigate a police officer that Rossy’s family and witnesses believe to be the real culprit in the Rossy’s murder. On 21 September 2018, the family lawyer had filed a complaint with the General Auditor of the Congolese army against 10 individuals including Kinshasa police commissioner Sylvano Kasongo over the murder of Rossy.
To date, the complaint is still pending before the Military Court and the trial has not resumed.