DRC: Six months after the assassination of Chérubin Okende, Congolese justice is walled in silence

On July 13, 2023, the lifeless body of Chérubin Okende, former Minister of Transport and spokesperson for Ensemble, Moïse Katumbi’s party, was discovered lifeless in his car not far from the center of Kinshasa. Since that date, Congolese justice has been conspicuous by its silence.

“We still have no news of the results of the autopsy. The prosecution refuses to pass it on to the family. We know nothing about the investigation and Mr Okende’s body has still not been returned”explains Maître Laurent Onyemba, the family’s lawyer, who adds: “justice and the authorities are counting on the family’s fatigue to let this case rot but we will not give up. We want to know the truth, we want to know why and who killed Chérubin Okende”.

This Friday, January 12, the family of Chérubin Okende organized a mass in tribute to the deceased at the Notre Dame de grace parish in the commune of Ngaliema, in Kinshasa. The opportunity to show its determination and cohesion six months after the assassination.

DRC: Concerns for Chérubin Okende’s family

Chérubin Okende was kidnapped from the parking lot of the Constitutional Court by armed men who took advantage of the absence of his bodyguard, who had left to submit a letter to the court, to commit their misdeed.

The Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, Firmin Mvonde Mambu, quickly pointed an accusing finger, without any evidence, at this bodyguard. He had promised that justice would elucidate the matter. Government spokesperson and Minister of Communication Patrick Muyaya did not hesitate, a few moments later, to declare: “Chérubin Okende was assassinated in conditions that must be clarified. The government condemns this despicable act,” before adding that all services have been instructed to shed light on this heinous act.

Six months later, this light has still not appeared and Congolese justice is walled in silence. However, at the beginning of August an autopsy was carried out by a Congolese team accompanied by a South African expert and a Belgian expert. Indeed, in his announced desire to clarify this issue, the President of the Republic had appealed “to friendly countries” to conduct this investigation. Since then, not the slightest progress, not the slightest communication on the result of this autopsy.

Complaint in Belgium

DRC: Complaint in Belgium for war crimes against the boss of Demiap, General Ndaywell

To try to break the lead over this case, the family mandated Belgian lawyer Alexis Deswaef to file a complaint in Belgium against the head of military intelligence, General Christian Ndaywell, a man of Belgian nationality.

His services were in fact cited in a report by the government intelligence agency (ANR) for their direct involvement in the assassination of Chérubin Okende.

A report which circulated extensively in diplomatic circles in Kinshasa and on social networks before being published by the magazine Jeune Afrique. A publication which has caused Congolese journalist Stanis Bujakera to languish in Makala prison for four months. However, if he is indeed one of the magazine’s correspondents, Stanis Bujakera did not sign this article. What does it matter for the Congolese justice system which decided to muzzle our colleague on the eve of the presidential and legislative elections.

DR Congo: RSF debunks accusations against Stanis Bujakera

Congolese justice claims that it has evidence to prosecute Stanis Bujakera but four months and several hearings after his arrest, his evidence seems to disintegrate over the course of the hearings.

In Belgium, the investigation for “war crimes” against Christian Ndaywell is continuing. The Belgian general and his services also appeared on May 30 in the muscular arrest of Salomon Kalonda, the right-hand man of Moïse Katumbi. Another arrest and another stringy file which resulted in Salomon Kalonda being detained by the military intelligence services despite his state of health which continued to deteriorate.

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