A gruesome video shows an Angolan police officer killing a man, who is lying on the street, writhing in agony. The video was filmed on June 1 in the south of Luanda, the Angolan capital. It represents rare proof of the extrajudicial killings that occur frequently in the country, according to Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais. The primary victims are young men accused of petty crime.
This video, which was being filmed by someone sitting in a car, shows a man writhing around in pain, clearly unable to get up.
A woman, probably the person filming, narrates the scene in a calm voice.
"This is happening in Benfica [Editor’s note: a neighbourhood situated to the south of Luanda], near the BFA [Editor’s note: an Angolan bank] and the craft market. The men from SIC [Editor’s note: the Service of Criminal Investigation, a part of the police] are beating a poor man."
An armed man, wearing a SIC uniform, stands near a car. He seems to be on his phone, while keeping an eye on the man on the ground.
After about a minute, the man on the ground manages to push himself up into a seated position but the police officer kicks him.
About a minute later, another man – who isn’t wearing a uniform – arrives. He gets out a gun and shoots the man on the ground several times.
The woman, who has been praying, screams.
"They killed a young man here, in front of the population!” she cries.
Then, the video stops.
FRANCE 24 has decided to only publish the beginning of this video – before the man is killed. When this video was shared on the Facebook page of Central Angola 7311, a platform of citizen journalists, it was viewed more than 42,000 times.
At least 92 extrajudicial killings have occurred in Luanda between April 2016 and November 2017
This isn’t an isolated case, according to a report published recently by Rafael Marques de Morais, an Angolan journalist who has been recognised internationally for his work on blood diamonds. Currently, he runs a blog aimed at stopping corruption.
According to this report, at least 92 people were executed extrajudicially by SIC agents between April 2016 and November 2017 in the suburbs of Luanda.
Marques de Morais says "the SIC death squads" regularly target young men suspected of being delinquents or criminals. These killings by authorities go unpunished. Still, after the publication of this report, the Attorney General of the Republic announced that he would be creating an investigative commission to look into the incidents cited.
FRANCe 24 spoke to Rafael Marques de Morais:
The authorities have been using death squads since independence in 1975. Worst of all, they actually think that these extrajudicial killings are useful ways to reduce crime, even though they run counter to rule of law, respect for life and human rights. Sadly, many people believe this.
"A good criminal is a dead criminal”
According to the report, many witnesses of these extrajudicial killings actually believe that the young men deserved to die. Many people also express these beliefs on social media.
In fact, after this video was posted on June 1, many people on social media actually thanked the police for their work, expressing the sentiment that a good criminal is a dead criminal. Others, however, took to social media to express their outrage at what they saw as an extrajudicial killing.
"Good work, SIC. It’s like that with criminals: you either kill them or they kill you,” wrote this social media user.
Screengrab of another video posted on Twitter on June 1 by Central Angola 7311. The text reads: “"There’s no more space in the prisons”; “This will have a dissuasive effect. Other people will think twice before committing crimes”; “Good work, police”. This method has been used for years so why is crime still on the rise?"
"It’s the first time that this kind of video has gone viral"
Rafael Marques de Morais continues:
While extrajudicial killings are common, there is rarely video proof.
A few videos like this have been circulated online before, but none of them had the same level of impact as the video posted on June 1.
This is actually the first time that this kind of video has gone viral on social media. I think it can be explained by two factors. First, the video was posted online shortly after the publication of my report on these practices. Secondly, we were hoping that these practices would be banned by [President] João Lourenço, but nothing has changed. [Editor’s note: Lourenço was elected President of the Republic in 2017, after the end of the 38-year-rule of his predecessor, José Eduardo Dos Santos. Lourenço promised on several occasions to address impunity and corruption.]
Moreover, the authorities had to respond to this video because it went viral.
SIC agent placed in temporary detention
On June 1, the Minister of the Interior said in a press release that an SIC agent had “mortally wounded a delinquent under unjustifiable circumstances” because the man had “already been under police control” at the time of his death.
However, the statement also seemed to downplay the agent’s responsibility by saying that, at the time of the killing, his brigade was “chasing a group of armed hooligans".
On June 1, the Attorney General of the Republic declared that this agent had been placed in temporary detention. The six other agents who had been interrogated about this matter were released from custody.
Article written by Chloé Lauvergnier (@clauvergnier).