Shock as Congolese refugee in Brazil is beaten to death over unpaid wages, witnesses say

Francis Akhalbey February 03, 2022
Moise Kabagambe, 24, was beaten to death in Brazil -- Photo via CNN

Police in Brazil have arrested three men in connection with the deadly beating of a 24-year-old Congolese refugee at a beachside kiosk in Rio de Janeiro. According to Reuters, security camera photos that were released by the police on Tuesday showed three men assaulting Moise Kabagambe with sticks.

The images also showed the victim was tied up at the time of the assault. In the wake of the January 24 incident, Kabagambe’s family and others have called for justice and for people to take to the streets to protest his killing.

Kabagambe was said to be an employee at the kiosk, and some witnesses claimed the men assaulted him after he demanded his outstanding two-day back pay. Investigators are reportedly looking into that allegation.

The three men were taken into custody on Tuesday while a fourth suspect is yet to be apprehended. The incident was captured on security video, and the kiosk owner helped in identifying the suspects by handing over the footage, police chief Henrique Damasceno said. The kiosk owner was also not part of the suspects who brutally beat Kabagambe.

A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kabagambe had been in Brazil for 10 years after arriving in the South American nation as a refugee. His family also said he was an architecture student.

“We want justice,” Kabagambe’s mother Ivana told reporters. “He grew up here in Brazil. I can’t believe this happened.”

The Congolese community and Black rights groups are also entreating people to join them for a protest at the kiosk on Saturday. A separate one will also be held in the city of Sao Paulo at the same time, Reuters reported.

Reacting to Kabagambe’s killing, Human Rights Watch said his fatal beating “deserves the most absolute repudiation by Brazilian society.” His killing also reportedly comes in the wake of heightened incidents of violence against Black people in the South American nation.

The Congolese embassy, which said Kabagambe was the fifth Congolese immigrant to be murdered in Brazil since 2019, also called on authorities to deeply investigate his killing.

The South American nation’s foreign ministry, Itamaraty, also released a statement in response to Kabagambe’s killing, saying: “Itamaraty expresses its indignation over the brutal murder and hopes those responsible are brought to justice as soon as possible.”

Per Brazil’s Justice Ministry, 900 Congolese nationals have arrived in the country as refugees since 2016, and they mostly reside in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 4, 2022


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