At least nine inmates have escaped from the Mitwaba Centre for Reeducation and Resocialization in the DR Congo during a prison break suspected to be aided by prison guards.
The nine escapees are allegedly members of one of the armed groups in eastern DR Congo accused of setting fire to villages and wounding civilians.
Civil society sources said the prison break occurred on the night of Monday, Feb. 1 and Tuesday, Feb. 2.
The sources said the prisoners were aided in their escape by guards of the prison who helped them bore a hole in the wall of their cell before disappearing into thin air.
“They made a hole into the solid wall of the prison without the guards supposedly knowing, which is surprising. The escape seems to have been premeditated and facilitated by guards of the prison who have now been arrested as an investigation by the State Prosecutor, Mibiboto Mpie goes on,” a local civil society activist in Mitwaba revealed.
The escape comes at a time when members of the Bakata Katanga armed group who have been housed for one week in Mitwaba after their surrender to the local authorities, were said to have been very conspicuous in the area.
Sources revealed that the presence of the armed group has been creating panic within the local community as school children in Haut-Katanga situated about 450 km from Lubumbashi have not been going to school because their parents fear their children could be attacked by the militia.
According to the Mitwaba civil society, the state prosecutors in the Mitwaba court have not been able to proceed with the case against the detained members of the group because there were no judges.
“This court area was created thanks to the 2013 reforms of jurisdictions and judicial order. None of the three judges appointed to the peace tribunal of Mitwaba has reported for duty. In spite of appeals by the network for reform of the security sector and justice as well as local authorities, no administrative action has been taken to ensure justice for the Mitwaba population by the DR Congo government,” said Jeff Mbiya Kadima, a civil society activist in Haut-Katanga.
“This situation has created a judicial environment where amicable arrangements and settling of scores prevail, while some members of the community seek the services of Mai-Mai Bakata Katanga militia to carry out vengeance attacks in most of the cases documented by the civil society in this part of Haut-Katanga province.
“It is more than very necessary that the Minister of Justice and the Higher Council of Magistracy decide on the functioning of certain jurisdictions in the hinterland of the provinces so that the right to an equitable judicial process within the legal delay becomes a reality for social harmony to prevail in DR Congo.”
Mitwaba territory, which is sometimes referred to as the triangle of death, has recorded a high presence of Mai-Mai Bakata Katanga in recent months.
The civil society in the region has even announced the presence of Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, a militia leader who escaped from Lubumbashi one year ago at a time when simultaneous attacks attributed to his group in some towns in Katanga region including Lubumbashi, Likasi and Kolwezi were on the rise.
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