The Seleka rebels stole these cars from Bangui residents and repainted them for their own use. Photos published in April 2013 onDiaspora.
Upon their arrival in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, Seleka rebels looted not just stores but also private homes. Cars, and particularly four-by-fours, are were requisitioned by the former rebels. These stolen cars are now being painted over so the rebels can drive them around the city.
After a rapid offensive in the northern part of the country, Seleka rebels took over the city of Bangui on March 24, beating the Central African army and forcing the former president François Bozizé to leave the country. That same day, Michel Djotodia, a key figure in the Seleka coalition, declared himself president.
Ever since, the capital has become more and more dangerous to live in. Furious over the looting by increasingly uncontrollable Seleka members, residents responded by lynching several alleged thieves. The Central African Multinational Force (Fomac) has struggled to carry out its disarmament mission. Faced with these difficulties, heads of states in the region decided on May 18 to increase this force from 800 soldiers to 2,000.
“In the best of cases, you pay them off, and in the worst of cases, you never see your car again”
Barry (not his real name) lives in Bangui and runs the blog RCA Info.
Car theft did not stop after Bangui was taken by the rebels. Still today, this type of theft is very common. And everyone with a car is potentially a victim, even high-ranking officials.Seleka members are the main culprits. They particularly like four-by-fours. And since it’s not that common for regular people to own one, Seleka members started to target institutions, NGOs, and public servants. On the street, we encounter freshly-painted cars that are still recognisable, like those that belonged to the Sodeca, the Central African company in charge of water distribution.The authorities announced about a month ago that car owners who have their registration papers could go and claim their cars back, but in reality, this hasn’t really been feasible. This is because cars are repainted, and in some cases, equipment is sometimes installed or taken out. Furthermore, even if you could find your cars, it’s just really not that easy to get a car back. In the best of cases, you pay them off, and in the worst of cases, you never see your car again.The Seleka is in control now. They are everywhere — police, customs — so there’s really no one in the government you can turn to for help.
“Some cars have been turned into taxis”
James (not his real name) lives in Bangui.
Many stolen cars were painted over very quickly; they’re very noticeable because the thieves just put paint splotches here and there.Some stolen cars were turned into taxis, which is to say they were painted yellow. They are then lent out to drivers who offer rides around Bangui and pay a portion of their revenue to the thief.One of my friends recognised his car despite the modifications. He pretended he was a taxi client and asked to be driven to the Mpoko camp, one of the Fomac camps. There, he knew he would be safe in case a fight broke out between him and the cab driver. Once inside the camp, he told the driver that it was actually his car and that he wanted it back.The driver told him it was a Seleka member who stole the car in order to make money by lending it out to drivers. So, although he still paid the driver 5,000 CFA francs [42 euros] for the ride, my friend managed to get his car back without too much trouble.