The men were hanged because a group of bikers accused them of killing another biker. I got some footage filmed that night [December 2] from a friend of mine who lives in the area. It shows a convoy of bikers riding with a hearse. That’s when things started.
Video showing the convoy of bikers. Filmed by our Observer Charly Kasereka.
My friend told me the bikers spent a good few hours looking for the people they thought were guilty of murdering one of their friends. They found the suspects in the middle of the night. From then on, things got nasty. Local residents set cars on fire, and then five men accused of the murder were attacked by a mob. I got there at 6:10 a.m. The bodies were burnt at 5 a.m., according to the witnesses I talked to.
Local residents at the scene, early on the morning of December 3. Video courtesy of Hope Channel.
Right by the bodies, people were walking around with bottles of alcohol in their hands [another witness reports some present were on drugs]. When we got there, a young girl asked us: “Do you want me to show you what we do with criminals who come here?” Another girl insisted: “Yes, go on, show them!”, and, egged on by the group of people around her, the first girl bit into a piece of burnt human flesh. [FRANCE 24 journalists have seen footage showing this scene, but have decided not to publish it due to its highly disturbing nature.]
We had already heard, as we made our way to the scene, that people had been eating these corpses. When we got there, people could speak of nothing else - the fact that angry residents had eaten pieces of dead bodies during the night [FRANCE 24 does not have footage from that night, but we do have footage that shows decapitated dead bodies]. And it’s not the first time this has happened after a mob killing.
“Residents told us they don’t believe the justice system works”
People are really panicking in Goma, particularly since more than a thousand prisoners escaped from the central jail in nearby Munzenze when the town was taken over by the M23 rebels.
Munzenze prison. Photo by our Observer Charly Kasereka.
The residents told us they don’t believe the justice system works. They feel they’re the ones who have to deal with suspected criminals, otherwise nothing will stop them. The number of crimes, particularly attacks in homes, has increased a lot recently. The residents don’t see any other choice but to take justice into their own hands. In less than two weeks, I’ve recorded nine cases whereby rapists have been killed by mobs. A mere suspicion can send things spiralling out of control. [According to the journalist Maria Malagardis, who was in Goma and who works for the French newspaper ‘Libération’, a traditional chief from the Majengo neighbourhood told her that amongst the victims of the December 2 killing was someone “innocent who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time”].
Footage showing the girl biting into the burnt piece of flesh was broadcast on two local television channels in Goma: NishapiTV and Hope Channel. People were extremely shocked footage of such nature – with nothing blurred – was shown without warning the audience first.
In the last few days, the local governor has spoken numerous times on the radio to try to calm people down. He wanted to remind residents they cannot take justice into their own hands. But people aren’t listening to him.