Protesters in Quibaxe Demand the Resignation of Police Commander
Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of people joined the funeral procession to bid farewell to Estêvão Venâncio, 24 years old, shot dead by a police officer while on his motorbike, in Dembos, the Northern province of Bengo. The funeral was also turned into a peaceful protest against police violence.
On July 20, Estêvão Venâncio, 24 years old, was going home from school on his motorbike when he was intercepted by National police officers in Quibaxe, the main village of the municipality of Dembos.
According to information given by his cousin, Neves Luciano Ganga, “we don’t know exactly what happened. An officer shot Estêvão at point blank range, hitting him between the heart and lung. Estêvão died instantly.”
Neves Luciano Ganga also added that “the same bullet hit the pillion passenger, a young student who was getting a lift and was sitting behind Estêvão.” According to his statement, corroborated by other sources, the passenger, simply known as Kaká, was taken to the Josina Machel hospital in Luanda, in critical condition.
The following day, on July 21, from 9.00 to12.30, over 300 people took to the streets of Quibaxe village, demanding the resignation of the municipal commander of the National Police (PN) and seeking justice for the murder of a motorcyclist by a police officer.
“We carried out a peaceful demonstration. We demand the resignation of Commander Pitra, who was in charge of the operation, and that the shooter be taken into custody,” said Mr. Ganga, who organized the demonstration.
Mr. Ganga acted as a mediator between the commission established by the municipal authority, led by the municipal administrator, Fernando Domingos Manuel, and that of the PN, presided over by a representative of the provincial commander of the PN for Bengo.
“There was a lot of tension in the air. Calm needed to be restored,” Mr. Ganga recalled.
According to the same source, the National Police took over the funeral arrangements and offered to provide the coffin for the burial. However, the victim left behind a widow and two children. The impoverished family demands justice and seeks the support of human rights organisations to provide a lawyer to take their case.
As a consequence of the demonstration, Neves Ganga pointed out that commander Pitra has already abandoned the municipality, and is in Caxito, the provincial capital of Bengo.
Other citizens interviewed by Maka Angola told how two of the demonstrators were injured by police as they tried to quell the protest. Mr. Ganga said this did not happen, but that he saw a young pregnant girl become ill “because of the disturbance that was caused. She was given assistance and we have been told she is alright now.”
It was not possible at the time of publication to contact local authorities.