In Chad, parliamentary president’s bodyguards kill man in rush hour
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A man was shot and killed on November 4 by gendarmes trying to clear a path through heavy traffic for the president of Chad’s National Assembly, Haroun Kabadi. After the tragedy, many Chadians took to social media to express outrage at Kabadi’s security detail, particularly because this isn’t the first time they’ve been involved in a similar incident.
On November 6, the High Court of N’Djamena opened an investigation into the death of Bonheur Manayal Mateyan, a 34-year-old motorcyclist, who had been killed two days before by shots fired by Kabadi's security detail on Pascal Yoadimnadji Avenue in N’Djamena. Four soldiers from Kabadi’s security detail have been arrested for “murder and complicity to murder", according to the public prosecutor.
But what exactly happened? Emmanuel Béasngar, a close friend of Mateyan’s, wasn't there when it happened. However, after his friend’s death, he spoke to many eyewitnesses.
"We need to make an example of these murderers”
Bonheur was my childhood friend -- we’ve been friends for more than 20 years. He lived in the same neighbourhood as me. He drove a motorcycle taxi. On Monday, he gave a local girl a lift into town. Around 6pm, the president of the National Assembly’s convoy came down Pascal Yoadimnadj Avenue.
But it was rush hour and so there was a lot of traffic on the road. The convoy had sirens going, but they weren’t enough to free up the road, which is just barely large enough for traffic to go in two directions. So Kabadi’s security detail fired a few shots to frighten people off the road.
Even though Bonheur had stopped on the side of the road to let the convoy pass, he was hit by two of these gunshots. First, he was shot in the stomach and then in the back. When I heard what had happened, I came immediately. We rushed him to the hospital but he had lost too much blood already. He died from his wounds.
During a plenary session at parliament, Kabadi said that his security detail had to fire shots in the air because a vehicle "had tried to break into the convoy twice. Unfortunately, the bullet must have hit a [telephone] pole and come back to hit a passerby".
Béasngar isn't satisfied by this explanation.
I’m angry. Something like that shouldn’t happen in the middle of a town. If the gendarmes wanted target practice, it shouldn’t be on civilians. Bonheur has a wife and three children. The youngest is just two weeks old. Who is going to take care of them? We want real justice for Bonheur. We need to make an example of these murderers.
"Bonheur didn't pose any danger to the convoy”
On social media, people expressed shock and outrage over Mateyan’s killing. Some Chadians spoke out against the culture of impunity surrounding the security forces. One local journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, explained:
This is the second time that Kabadi’s security detail has been involved in this kind of incident. Back in July 2018, security forces shot a man under similar circumstances. The man was hospitalised but, thankfully, he survived his injuries. Usually, soldiers only have the right to shoot if the president of the National Assembly’s life is in danger. But Bonheur wasn’t in any way a danger to the convoy.
In a statement published on November 5, the president of the National Assembly, who is a member of the ruling party the Patriotic Salvation Movement ['Mouvement patriotique pour le salut' or 'MPS' in French] admitted that his security detail had "in an attempt to clear a path caused the death of a citizen by gunshot wounds". Kabadi said he "regretted the death” of a fellow citizen and extended his condolences to Mateyan’s friends and family.
L'Assemblée nationale du Tchad réagit après la mort à fleur d'âge du citoyen Matebaye Mayanel Bonheur dans la l'après midi du 04 Novembre en plein N'djaména. pic.twitter.com/xyAbRDt4F5Mustapha Youssouf Ramadan???????????????? (@Moustap53365195) November 6, 2019
Twitter user Mustapha Youssouf Ramadan tweeted (in French): Chad’s National Assembly reacts to the death of Matebaye Mayanel Bonheur [sic] in the prime of his life on the afternoon of November 4 in the middle of N'djaména.
Even though members of Kabadi’s security detail were arrested, Béasngar doesn’t think they will be held accountable for their actions. The journalist who spoke to the FRANCE 24 Observers team added: "We’re talking about soldiers here who have protection. They will simply pretend to punish them.”
"If we aren’t able to establish who fired the shot, the National Assembly will be considered responsible, the public prosecutor told French news agency Agence-France Presse. That’s what happened with the previous incident involving Kabadi’s bodyguards. That was settled amicably by the National Assembly in July 2018.
Article by Hermann Boko (@HermannBoko).