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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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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The Attempted Coup in Angola

The second-in-command of the Angolan National Police, Chief-Commissioner Paulo de Almeida, recently surprised many Angolans when he claimed there had been a coup attempt against President José Eduardo dos Santos. Interviewed by the Angolan Catholic broadcaster Rádio Ecclésia shortly before Christmas, Chief-Commissioner Almeida said the demonstration that took place on November 23, in protest at the deaths of political activists Cassule and Kamulingue, had ulterior motives. “We have proof that [the demonstration] was in order to seize power. We have proof that it was an attack on power,” he said. “This was not a demonstration.” He said that the demonstration had been repressed in order to prevent a seizure of power, and insisted that the various attempted demonstrations that have taken place in Angola since 2011 have not been peaceful. From his point of view, the idea of a peaceful demonstration is simply an excuse for grabbing power. I enjoyed […]

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Journalists File Complaint Against the Police

Journalists Rafael Marques de Morais and Alexandre Solombe on Monday filed a formal complaint against the Angolan Rapid Intervention Police (PIR), after they were detained, physically mistreated and received death threats on September 20. In the complaint, addressed to Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa, the journalists also denounced the damage done to their equipment, including cameras and mobile phones, as an attack on the freedom of the press. Marques and Solombe, together with Voice of America correspondent Coque Mukuta, were seized by the police while interviewing a group of youth activists who had just been released from custody on court orders. The eight youths had been arrested the previous day during an attempted demonstration in Luanda. The journalists began interviewing the youths in the street, about 300 meters from the courthouse where a judge had ordered their release. While they were speaking, 45 PIR members surrounded them, and […]

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Minor Arrested for “Defaming” the President

Angolan police detained youth activist Manuel Civonda Baptista Nito Alves, 17, on Thursday, September 12, for allegedly defaming President José Eduardo dos Santos. The arrest took place in Luanda’s Viana district. “We went to Unit 45 of the National Police in Capalanca neighborhood, and the police told us my son had been detained when he went to fetch t-shirts for the Revolutionary Movement demonstration scheduled for September 19,” his father Fernando Baptista told Maka Angola. “The police officers told us he was detained for having committed the crime of defaming the President of the Republic,” the father added. “They asked us to go to the Municipal Directorate of Criminal Investigation tomorrow to get his case number.” Other activists in the Viana area told Maka Angola that Nito Alves had been detained in connection with the production of 20 t-shirts bearing the words “José Eduardo out! Nasty dictator.” On the back […]

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Prison Guards at the Private Service of the Interior Minister

The Angolan minister of Home Affairs, Ângelo Tavares de Barros Veiga, has been keeping 15 prison guards on his private service, distributed among three of his homes. An investigation by Maka Angola has discovered that the guards belong to Viana Prison in Luanda. The prison has about 105 permanent guards, of which less than 80 are used daily on a rotational basis. Viana Prison houses more than 3.500 inmates, but has a capacity for only 1.700. On June 25, 15 prisoners escaped from Viana Prison with relative ease. Although this event exposed the security flaws of the main jail in the country, senior police officials have continued to poach guards from Viana Prison as free labor for their private homes. The Secretary of State for Correctional Services, José Bamóquina Zau, continues to retain five prison guards on his private service. Meanwhile, the National Director of Correctional Services, Commissioner Domingos Ferreira […]

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A Bridge Too Far for the Opposition

Public officials, members and sympathizers of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation in Angola (MPLA) have been very creative in undermining the opposition, while preserving the veneer of a multiparty political system in the country. But the latest demonstration of creativity has gone a bridge too far, in Huambo province. On August 25, the Ukuma municipal police commander, Superintendent Jorge Balú “Sankara”, armed with a chain saw, brought down the log bridge over the Capraia River, while a Chinese citizen assisted him with a sledgehammer. An opposition party convoy of about 150 people, traveling in nine vehicles and several motorbikes, was successfully stopped at the bridge, on the side of Ukuma town. The destruction of the bridge prevented the political activists from CASA-CE from holding a scheduled political rally in the village of Cacoma, some kilometers on the other side of the bridge. CASA-CE is a coalition of four […]

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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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Arresting the Shabby and Shorty Journalist

In a repressive state with the veneer of democratically elected institutions, such as Angola, the ways in which abuse can be rationalized make parodies. Journalist Coque Mukuta, 28, experienced such a parody on January 4, 2013, while interviewing women street vendors on the arbitrary police beatings against them, for selling in the streets of Viana, in the outlays of Luanda. “I personally saw, while doing my work, six police officers severely lashing women street vendors with electric wires,” said Mukuta. Rather than leaving the area, the journalist, who is the correspondent for the Portuguese service of Voice of America, remained adamant in finishing the recording of his third interview on site. “They [the six police officers] came straight at me, hauled me off into their vehicle, confiscated my equipment, and slapped me several times, and told me I would be thrown in jail,” he said. At the municipal command of […]

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