Amnesty International on Thursday called on authorities in Angola to account for the whereabouts of a five-year-old boy who went missing after police raided the Mucubai Community in Ndamba area in the outskirts of the city of Moçâmedes, the capital of Namibe Province in which 16 houses were torched and personal belongings including blankets, clothes and water containers set alight
Five-year-old Mbapamuhuka Caçador disappeared following the raid on October 12 by Rapid Intervention Police, which was sparked by a land dispute. Residents fear the boy may have been burned alive in one of the houses attacked by police as they unleashed violence on the community.
“Mbapamuhuka Caçador’s disappearance in Ndamba, following the raid by the police, amounts to enforced disappearance, a crime under international law. Angolan authorities must leave no stone unturned in ensuring his safe return,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
“It is also deeply disturbing that the police were deployed with such force and brutality to resolve a domestic matter. Police have a duty to protect rather than terrorize people.”
“Authorities must promptly, thoroughly, impartially, independently and transparently investigate the circumstances leading to Mbapamuhuka Caçador’s disappearance, make public the outcome of any investigation, and bring to justice in fair trial anyone suspected to be responsible. Authorities must provide the victim with access to justice and effective remedies.”
Police unleash violence against community
The raid was led by the son of Sr. Cunha, the former (deceased) Provincial Chief of Police in Namibe province, southern Angola. The attack was carried out on behalf of Cunha’s widow, Antonia Fernanda, as part of a campaign to forcibly annex Mucubai community land adjacent to her commercial farm.
“Authorities must halt the forced eviction of the Mucubai community from their land and ensure that their welfare and livelihoods are secured,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.
Residents and witnesses said police arrived in Ndamba in the afternoon to raid and burn houses, including all the contents inside such as blankets, bed sheets, mattresses, clothes, shoes, food and water containers. The police also destroyed vegetable gardens and killed livestock belonging to members of the Mucubai ethnic minority group.
Five people were detained before they were released on 13 October without being charged. They were named as: Jose Mbapiluka, Mbakahako Muandjissamo, Mukamuavia Mbakahako, Tchimupepa and Zacarias. Mbakahako was forced by police to inhale a toxic gas which caused him to faint. While unconscious, the police handcuffed him and threw him in a police car.
According to the human rights organizations, forced evictions of rural communities such as this are widespread in Angola, particularly in the south where powerful individuals connected to the MPLA, the ruling party, have grabbed the communal grazing lands of the traditional pastoralists, aggravating their vulnerability especially in relation to food and water insecurity. The Mucubai are an economically, socially and politically marginalized and oppressed minority group in southern Angola.