From 13 to 15 October 1998
For the Anglican Church of Congo - The Diocese of Katanga
Mgr Isingoma Kahwa
Bishop and Legal Representative
On October 13, 1998, about 11:00 a.m. two officers from Brigade 40 came to the Headquarters of the Diocese, located at 1307 Chaussee de Kasenga/Kampemba. They arrived in a Jeep with their bodyguards.
They asked to see me and the Secretary took them to my office. Politely they introduced themselves and requested to have the name of all people drive the Diocesan vehicles. I informed them that our driver, the Community Development Officer and I were the people that would usually use the vehicles. The officers demanded to see them, as requested we acceded to without any delay. They requested the newcomers to present ID,which they did. They ordered the driver and the Community Development Worker to follow them, and requested me to do the same.
Since their vehicle did not had enough space to accommodate all of us, we followed them in our car to the headquarters of the 40th Brigade; once there they took us to the commander's office, whose name we do not know. As soon as we entered his office the commander asked me what was my nationality, and my region of origin. I answered that I was Congolese from the Eastern Province, district of Uturi in Bunia. He made us wait outside his office and left it carrying my staff's IDs. We waited for several hours. When he came back he returned the IDs and ordered us to follow him again. This time we went to the ANR (Agence Nationale des Renseignements) to verify once again our identification. This information was given to us by one of the officers who arrested us.
At ANR, one of the officers introduced us to the receptionist informing him that we had come because of problems related to our identification. Mr. Mununga, the ANR inspector, read the documentation that was given to him by the officers. He asked for our names and saw that the files were under different names than ours. He exclaimed that there had been misunderstanding. Since there was a mistake of identification we asked him to let us go and that we would come the next day if needed. He claimed that he needed to contact his boss first, the General Secretary. Most of the key people in the department had gone to welcome Mr. Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, who was visiting Lubumbashi. He left saying that he was going to talk to the General Secretary. However, the man at the reception informed us that he was also talking with the General Secretary about our situation. Before his conversation had finished Mr. Mununga reappeared informing the receptionist that there was no need to continue the conversation since he had already decided what to do with us. He asked us to follow him. He took us directly to the ANR detention centre / cell. He did not explain the reason for our detention. Once there he left us to the care of the chief commander.
The chief commander registered our names in the detainees' book. I asked him if they did not have a more appropriate place for the dignitaries of the Church, and also that had malaria and was under treatment. He said no and proceeded by ordering us to take off our shoes, belts, and empty our pockets. Before he took us to our cells he requested me to take off my Cross and my clergy collar. We were six prisoners in a very small cell and psychologically it was very stressful. After some prayer they allowed me to go out for some fresh air. After that, they would allow us to sit down outside, but always isolated, without any external communication. We were very careful to listen so as not to miss hearing our names being called. We believed that during the day the ANR director would come from his duty of welcoming President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He would then look into our case and surely free us since there was no reason to justify our detention. We waited in vain. Only a mouse visited us during the night to share the cell with us. In the meantime, our car was being used by the ANR staff.
The next day, without being seen by the authorities some ANR inspectors informed us that they were waiting for the arrival of the ANR Director to free us. It seemed that we were falsely accused by a man named Kalembwe. We were accused on the basis of our ethnicity and "social activities".
The Director finally arrived two days after our detention, on Thursday, October 15, called us to his office, presented his apologies for being absent, and explained that he had been occupied by the visit of the President of the Republic in Lubumbashi. We were freed at 20:00. He asked his staff to return the keys of our car and let us go home. The same day, Thursday, October 15th, I was called by the Inspector of AMISI / ANR. He wanted to hear about my origins and my social position. He never explained to me the reasons of our detention, which are still a mystery. What most embarrassed me was the link he tried to make between my country's invaders and my tribe.
Throughout our detention, the Driver and the Community Development Coordinator were never given a hearing by the authorities. We were not given a release document, justifying our detention.
We pray the Lord for His protection throughout these difficult moments and for strength and faith.