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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All the President’s Dogs

A protest in the Angolan capital, Luanda on Saturday August 20, was broken up by security forces who set dogs onto the 30 or so demonstrators calling for the resignation of President José Eduardo dos Santos. António Francisco Diogo, 25, had a chunk ripped out of the back of his thigh by a bulldog unleashed by the military. President Dos Santos had just been reelected as leader of the ruling MPLA (Peoples’ Movement for the Liberation of Angola) with 99.6% of his party’s vote. His re-election means he will be the sole MPLA candidate for next year’s presidential election. The MPLA has ruled Angola for 40 years, since wresting independence from its colonial master Portugal in 1975. Widely derided as a tyrant, President Dos Santos, who has ruled the country for 37 of those years, is unable to tolerate any call for him to step down, however small or insignificant. […]

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How Police Commanders Brutally Assaulted Laurinda Gouveia

One National Police officer grabbed Laurinda Gouveia’s mobile phone, and another punched her in the face. They dragged her a few meters, by the hair, to a National Police vehicle. Laurinda committed the crime of treason by attempting to take part in a demonstration demanding the resignation of president José Eduardo dos Santos. What followed is her personal ordeal. Last Sunday, November 23, at around 4pm, Laurinda, a 2nd year student of Philosophy at the Catholic University, and part-time street vendor of barbecued meat, went to Independence Square in Luanda, in the company of three other activists. While her companions were trying to get to the Agostinho Neto monument, Laurinda was taking pictures from a distance. “The National Police patrol car took me to the 1st of May School [Commercial Institute of Luanda], beside the Square. Six police commanders and plain clothes SINSE  (State Security and Intelligence Service) officials surrounded […]

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Margoso: Urban Development for the Rich, Eviction for the Poor

José Agostinho Quiteque, 31, represents his family’s third generation to be born in the neighbourhood of Margoso, in the Maianga district of Luanda. Nestled on the hillside between the neighbourhoods of Prenda and Bairro Azul, and Avenida Revolução de Outubro, Margoso is to be demolished to make way for a new housing development for the wealthy. The Quiteque family has lived in the area for more than fifty years. Family patriarch Agostinho Quiteque, born in Kwanza Sul, saw the birth of his first child in Margoso in the wooden house that he built on the site now occupied by Prenda Clinic. The colonial authorities granted him another site a little lower down the hill where he built a permanent house of bricks and mortar in which he lived until he died four months ago at the age of 81. All four of his children were born in Margoso, and when […]

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Government Uses Military in Mass Forced Evictions

By Alexandre Neto Seven helicopters and an apparatus of more than 500 men, including military personnel, police and security forces, took part in a military-styled operation that forcibly evicted over 5,000 people from the residential neighborhood of Mayombe, in the Cacuaco municipality, in Luanda, on February 1. According to local residents, the joint military and police forces took the community by surprise at early dawn, causing widespread panic. “At around 5am the bulldozers started razing the houses to the ground, evicting more than 5,000 people”, said Mateus Virgílio Mukito, one of the residents left homeless. Pedro Sebastião, another evictee, told Maka Angola that two children died in the operation. “They were running from the helicopters and ended up falling into a drainage ditch.” Other residents corroborated this information. According to Mr. Sebastião, given the level of panic within the community, it wasn’t even possible to hold funerals in the area. […]

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Presidential Guards at the Service of Private Business

The trial of 15 Angolan presidential guards, accused in connection with a petition in which they demanded better salaries and working conditions, has drawn attention to a web of corrupt practices in which military officers set up private business with state funds as their capital, and using soldiers as their labourers. The guards on trial are members of the Central Protection and Security Unit (DCPS), a unit that was set up in 2004 under the auspices of the Military Bureau of the Angolan Presidency. Its supposed function was to protect infrastructure rehabilitation projects throughout Angola, as part of the National Reconstruction Office (GRN) that was attached to the Military Bureau under the leadership of General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”. The DCPS was meant to protect the Chinese companies and workers who were involved in the projects. These projects have been worth more than US$10 billion, financed by the Chinese […]

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Land Rush End in Summary Trials

A rumour that the municipal administration of Cacuaco, Luanda, was to distribute land in the farming area known as Kilometre 30, resulted in almost 100 detentions and summary convictions by the Cacuaco municipal court on Monday, August 13. Maka Angola has confirmed that more than 40 people, 22 of them women, were sentenced individually to a suspended prison sentence of three months, converted to a 49,000 kwanza fine (US $490). The news that plots of land were to be allocated prompted multitudes of people to the area. But for no apparent reason, members of the National Police at the scene started arresting people at random. Roque Augusto, one of those present, explained that his family went to the site and claimed a plot in the zone that was supposedly being distributed. According to him, his family didn’t even occupy the plot. “Last Saturday, a large team from the National Police […]

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