How much is the life of a 14-year-old boy worth to police?
On the morning of 13 May 2020, the mother of Mário Palma Romeu, 14 years old boy, affectionally called Marito, asked him to buy sugar in the square at the Tombas' beach, in Benguela municipality, Benguela province. That same morning, young men working on fishing boats on the same beach started a riot, and the police were called in to intervene. Trying to disperse the population from the beach, a police officer shot twice into the air. The second shot hit Marito's head, who died immediately. The provincial police command of Benguela, as a form of compensation, paid for partial costs of Marito’s funeral and sent a food basket containing two boxes of pasta, a bag of beans, a box of oil, and two bags of cornmeal to Marito's family.
Marito and his brother worked at the fish market to help at home because their mother, who raises her children alone, is sick and can no longer work. The mother is in profound grief and struggling to bring food home.
The officer responsible for Marito’s death is currently on preventive detention while waiting for the investigation into the murder of Marito. The Minister of Interior in Benguela also opened a disciplinary procedure against the perpetrator.
My little one used to help me bring income to help to feed his siblings. I have pain in my chest, and I can’t work anymore. Now we have no more income. I told the police that my son’s assassination should not be in vain. When a person dies, there must be justice. I’ve been to the police station at least five times to look for information on my son’s case. Every time I go there, the cops say ‘mom can you give us your number?’ (to call me with information later) Are they kidding me? My son’s father, from whom I already separated, has also been to the police station. He was not given any information until he said ‘since you don’t want to see me, I’m going to Zimbo Television’, an agent promptly took the father to the market to get food.
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At least seven young boys have been killed by the security forces between May and July in an effort to enforce the preventives measures to fight the pandemic of COVID-19. Their families demand justice and we can help them.