Five members of the UDPS, killed in a fire set by security forces

On the night of 19-20 September 2016, a group of men in army uniforms attacked the headquarters of the then opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party in the Limete district of Kinshasa. The armed men chopped Bouquin Bukasa, a 54-year-old security guard at the UDPS premises, into pieces by and then set fire to the building. Stéphane Mwabilayi, Bilomba Tshimungu, Pierre Kapena Wetu, and John Mutamba Mbuyi, all UDPS members, died in the fire.

Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the attackers were armed men dressed in outfits normally worn by the Republican Guard – which is the presidential guard.

A witness who was employed as a security guard at a nearby building told Amnesty International that he saw three Congolese army pick-ups arrive and stop at Le Petit Boulevard street at around 11 pm.

“They stayed a few minutes, then made a U-turn and left. The first time, there were people around the party’s office, locally known as “Permanence”. I saw three other cars which I believe to be the same at around 3 am. I was awakened by the sound of their engine. This time there were no people around, and the electricity had just been cut off in the neighborhood. Four or five men climbed the fence wall of the Permanence, and later I heard explosions and saw that the house was on fire. The pick-ups that were still waiting in the street went away at high speed, I was very scared.” 

Many UDPS members Amnesty International spoke to said they believed the brutal attack was carried out in retaliation for the attacks by protesters earlier that day on the headquarters of several party offices of the ruling coalition, including former President Joseph Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Development (PPRD). Members of the ruling coalition confirmed through local media that they intended to revenge for the attack on their offices.

The five UDPS members and a young boy killed by a stray bullet in the vicinity of the same UDPS headquarters on the same day were buried on 1 November 2016 at Kinsuka cemetery, close to one another. The UDPS party officials said the six were martyrs. They promised to build proper gravestones and ensure justice and accountability for their killings. They also told the families the party would file complaints on behalf of the families. But now that they are in power, they have not followed up on their commitments. No gravestone has been erected at their tombs and no investigation has been conducted by judicial authorities.

No reparation has been granted to the families.