The Fake Assassination Attempt against Angola’s Vice-President

Why does the president of the Republic, João Lourenço, allow his government to be tarnished with fabricated accusations regarding the supposed attempted murder of his vice-president in the first months of his term? Why would the president allow the National Police and the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) to use a machete as an official torture tool? Why does the president allow the judicial system, especially SIC, to be so inhumane, specializing in forging absurd evidence and incarcerating innocents? Why does João Lourenço allow the involvement of staff members of the Security House of the Presidency in an act of torture to go unpunished? Let us turn to the facts. Five citizens, detained more than a month ago, are accused of the attempted murder of vice-president Bornito de Sousa. The accusation was concocted from a banal discussion about parking the car which the five were in. They were barbarously tortured, filmed […]

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My Trial

My trial has begun. I am standing on the dock accused of two crimes for nearly four hours straight. It is my punishment for not exercising. Now I feel the pain in my back. Under the Law on Crimes against State Security, I am accused of an outrage against a sovereign body, the former President José Eduardo dos Santos. The second crime is of insult against a public office holder, the former Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa. Both carry a maximum sentence of four years. The courtroom is packed. Judge Josina Mussua Ferreira Falcão notes how disrespectful the former attorney general and his counsel have been. For the second time, they submitted a last minute request to postpone the trial sine die (without a set date), and this time with an unreasonable justification. The judge decides to go ahead with the trial without the plaintiff or his counsel. […]

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Angola’s Death Squads

Nearly two years ago, rumors began circulating in the Angolan capital, Luanda, that police officers working for the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) were routinely rounding up suspected petty criminals and killing them. Human rights journalist Rafael Marques de Morais began an investigation, taking oral and written testimony from dozens of witnesses, family members, friends, and even from the occasional survivor. He says “Compelling testimony points to a systematic SIC death squad operation targeting young men merely suspected of undesirable or criminal behavior.” Over a period of months, a clear pattern emerged with eye-witnesses naming individual police officers who had been seen to kill victims in broad daylight and in view of members of the public.  It was alleged that specific SIC units were acting as death squads with impunity. “The SIC death squads are blamed for the summary executions of hundreds of young Angolans, without even a cursory investigation of […]

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A Journey for Rights and Dignity: A Participant’s Observation

Note: This text was initially delivered as the Hormuud Lecture of the African Studies Association, at its annual meeting in Chicago, on November 18, 2017.   Within days after delivering this lecture, I will be publishing the first report focused exclusively on extrajudicial killings in Angola. These executions were carried out in the past year by the Angolan Criminal Investigation Service operatives across the two most populated neighborhoods of the capital Luanda, namely Cacuaco and Viana. In the report there are more than 100 victims identified and additional unidentified individuals suspected of being delinquents or simply innocent. During my investigation I discovered the existence of an open field, next to a primary school in Viana (Escola Primária e do 1º Ciclo do Ensino Secundário nº 5113), that locals called the slaughterhouse or more commonly the death camp. The state operatives usually took their victims to this slaughterhouse in broad daylight. […]

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Angolan Muslims Denounce Human Rights Violations

Aisha Lopes, the fashion designer, and her husband Angelica Bernardo da Costa (also known as Mujahid Kenyata) are Angolan nationals who converted to Islam in 1996.   Aisha, a diabetic, was nursing her 26-day-old infant delivered via high-risk Caesarean surgery when security forces raided the family’s apartment at 5 am on December 2 nd , 2016.  More than 20 armed officers from the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and the security branch burst in and detained her and her baby, along with her 39-year-old husband. Aisha says they ransacked the apartment, seizing computers, phones, more than 200 books, the couple’s bank cards and all the personal documents belonging to the couple.   “They even took my medical reports. They did not leave a single sheet of paper. “ “We are poor and the agents mocked us, saying that the head of the terrorists in Angola had almost nothing of worth in […]

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Police Use Lethal Force to Repress Diamond-Area Protest

Reports from the diamond-rich province of Lunda Norte in north-eastern Angola say police opened fire without warning on peaceful demonstrations by separatists on Sunday, killing one bystander and wounding others. Protest marches in the region had been organized by a banned political organization, the ‘Movimento do Protectorado Lunda-Tchokwé’ (MPL-T, Movement for the Lunda-Tchokwé Protectorate), which advocates independence for the Tchokwé peoples who live in the former ancient kingdom of the Lundas. The separatists have argued for a measure of autonomy, similar to that accorded to Scotland within the United Kingdom. Insiders say the MPL-T wrote to Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos earlier this month to ask for dialogue and for permission to hold a public demonstration. It appears that no march permit was sought from the local authorities. Up to a thousand supporters are said to have turned out in the town of Luzamba at 7am with the aim […]

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Nobody Wants to Kiss the General

Reports of bizarre behavior by the Angolan President’s loyal henchman, General José António Maria, aged 74, have become so frequent that people are openly questioning whether the elderly security head honcho is succumbing to senility. Already past the official retirement age, the man better known as General “Zé Maria” remains the head of the Military Intelligence and Security Service (Serviço de Inteligência e Segurança Militar, SISM) despite the concerns for his mental health. Once again his unprofessional behavior towards female employees is causing a stir in Luanda. The General is a notorious womanizer, who propositions almost every woman he encounters. When it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, he appears to ignore both Angolan laws and the passage of time. Have none of his senior colleagues thought to whisper in his ear that this is the 21st Century and ‘droit de seigneur’ is past its sell-by date? The latest […]

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Diamond Barons Sued for Destruction of Farmland

A ‘war’ between diamond mining interests and locals in northeastern Angola that has resulted in the destruction of 402 privately-owned fields of assorted crops in the last year alone, has forced the area’s traditional chiefs, or Sobas, to file suit against the mining conglomerate and six named individuals. The lawsuit, filed today, seeks redress for actions attributed to the Angolan diamond mining conglomerate, Sociedade Mineira do Cuango Lda. (SMC) and five of its managerial team: Artur Jorge Gonçales (President of the Board), Victor Nunes (Logistics and Security Manager), Filipe Luis (Administrative and Financial Manager), Mike Weir (Operations Director) and Firmino Valeriano (Deputy Operations Director). The complaint alleges criminal behaviour, including extortion and theft, and the violation of individuals’ property rights under Article 37 of the Constitution, and demands action by the Attorney General’s office to institute criminal proceedings against those responsible. SMC is accused of ordering the systematic destruction of […]

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Angola’s Rampant Extra-Judicial Killings

More witnesses have come forward to corroborate reports of a wave of extra-judicial killings by elements of the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) working with the National Police in the suburbs of the Angolan capital, Luanda. Testimony and evidence from multiple sources points to an astonishing level of violence at the hands of either police or SIC agents, including more than 100 extra-judicial shootings in the past five months. Highly-placed sources in the Angolan government suggest that this is the direct result of pressure from the Interior minister for the SIC to crack down on crime in the Viana suburb. Criminal investigators Recently Maka Angola reported the killing of José Loureiro Padrão, known as ‘Zeca’, a 40-year-old motorcycle mechanic who was beaten to death while in SIC custody. A witness to that killing has now come forward to corroborate the family’s complaint and to give further details. “Zeca was wrapped in […]

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Angola: More Extra-Judicial Killings

Officers from Angola’s National Police and Criminal Investigation Service have been accused of executing two unarmed men, in cold blood, in the latest display of what witnesses say is the out-of-control behavior of armed police in and around the Angolan capital, Luanda. A ten-year-old girl was also injured by a gunshot wound received as the officers fired indiscriminately in the middle of a suburban residential neighborhood at 10.30 in the morning on September 6. Suzanete Gomes was playing with friends in her neighbor’s back yard when they saw someone trying to climb over the wall and heard shots. As they turned to run from the yard in fright, Suzanete saw she was bleeding. She had been shot – the bullet striking her in the back and exiting through her abdomen. The child told Maka Angola that a uniformed policeman approached her and asked her if she’d been hit. “I said yes […]

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