Machete Torture: More Human Rights Abuses in Diamond-Rich Region

“I am Angolan!”, the informal diamond digger keeps screaming in pain and in vain, while the guard repeatedly beats him on the palm of his hands with a machete. His citizen’s rights are ignored. As the guard becomes more violent, the victim screams for his mother repeatedly, but his humanity is ignored as well.

“Shit! Pardon does not exist”, the guard who is commanding the beatings of up to ten miners, laughs louder. He is known as Bonifácio.

Video evidence has emerged of vicious and sadistic beatings recently meted out to informal miners known as ‘garimpeiros’ by private security guards. The assaults took place just weeks ago in the diamond-rich area of north-eastern Angola.

The video, which contains harrowing scenes, was filmed on April 21, 2016 in the Dambi area of Cafunfo in the northeastern province of Lunda-Norte.  In unsparing detail, it shows the guards using machetes to intimidate, beat and cut the unarmed men seated on the ground.

Blow after blow is meted out to hands, feet and body parts while the victims scream and howl in pain.

The assailants have been identified as security guards employed by a private security company named Bicuar, which operates under contract to the notorious diamond-mining company ‘Sociedade Mineira do Cuango’ (SMC), a partnership involving the state diamond company Endiama, ITM-Mining and Lumanhe.

Lumanhe which has a 21% stake in SMC is owned by leading members of the governing MPLA party in partnership with high-ranking members of the Angolan Armed Forces, leading to its being popularly known in Angola as “the Generals’ company”.

Atrocities carried out by former combatants now employed as private security guards in Lunda-Norte have been documented over a number of years, with testimony collected and made public not just in news reports but also in the controversial book ‘Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola’ by Rafael Marques de Morais.

Endiama, its subsidary Sodiam and their partners engage directly on a daily basis with “garimpeiros” (informal miners), purchasing all the diamonds that are discovered by these individual prospectors. Currently, Sodiam, in partnership with the couple Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo, is selling the diamonds acquired from garimpeiros internationally. The stones “glamour” causes people to forget that garimpeiros are victims of constant torture due to their “illegal” status, some of them even dying because being classified as such. However, when the diamonds are sold to the state and its associates, they are considered clean and legitimate. Only the sellers are considered illegal and are therefore on on the receiving end of brutal and inhumane treatment.

The private company Mi-Diamond, belonging to the director-general of Endiama, Carlos Sumbula, also purchases diamonds from the garimpeiros. Complaints sent to the Attorney General of the Republic have not resulted in any proceedings directed at stopping the gratuitous violence practiced by private security in the Lundas.