On 24 November 2009 Compagnie Minière du Sud Katanga (South Katanga Mining Company – CMSK), which operates the Luiswishi mine near Lubumbashi, DRC, supported and participated in the demolition of hundreds of houses in the village of Kawama, in the vicinity of the mine. The operation was undertaken by the Congolese police and CMSK. At the time of the incident CMSK was a joint venture between Entreprise Générale Malta Forrest (EGMF) and Gécamines (the Congolese state-owned mining company). EGMF, a subsidiary of George Forrest International, had a majority shareholding in CMSK. Read more about the attack

Loss of life, homes, livelihoods

  • KAYEMBE LUPEZO: 58 years old, is a now-unemployed father of 13 children. “CMSK destroyed my hotel. It was called Grand Lac and had 48 rooms. During the demolition I was unable to recover any of my belongings. Everything was destroyed. The worst thing was the loss of two of my children, who were killed when the walls collapsed on top of them. Since the demolition of my hotel I have gone through a truly difficult time. At the moment I live in a plastic tent because I don’t have money to build. Since my hotel was destroyed I feel that I am already dead.”
  • SEBASTIAN BADIBANGA NSAMBUKA: born 1964, had a two-roomed house, one room was used as a dispensary. "I lost $3000 worth of pharmaceutical products stored there and all my belongings. I now rent a single room. One of my children died after the demolition because I didn’t have money to take him to hospital.”
  • DESIRE MUKEBA: 45 years, father of five children, is the representative of the affected families. “I lost my dispensary and my house and all our belongings. I lost microscopes, beds, medicines, chairs, televisions, radios, clothes, my children’s school things. Now I am living in two rooms with some of my children and the others live in Lubumbashi. I earn my living as a petty trader selling clothes in Kolwezi, which is 300 Kms from Lubumbashi. I give credit and wait to be paid at the end of the month. It is difficult for me because I used to work as a doctor but now I am forced to travel on trucks with all of the risks just to sell clothes on credit. It is difficult to keep the children in school as I am often late in paying their school fees.”
  • NGOYI SABINA is 56 years old. Her children are no longer in school and she is living in a tent made of plastic sheets. “Since my home was destroyed I am always ill. The Government of Katanga chased us away when we tried to go there for help.”
  • MAYONGA KABWIZA, 45 years old, is a widow with five children. “Since the demolitions I no longer have work and my children are no longer able to continue their studies. When we went to the governor’s office to complain we were driven away like idiots: some people were beaten and others were arrested.”
  • TSHITEBA SONI JEAN, born 1983, father of three children: “Now my wife and my children and I are all living in a single room. I am not able to rebuild my house. My children no longer go to school as I have no financial means." 
  • YAV NDAMBU , born 1962, father of four children, says: “CMSK bulldozers destroyed my house, which had 12 rooms, and all our belongings with it. When they destroy your home, they kill you. It is not easy to rebuild the house.”
  • KALENDA THOMAS, born 1963 has eight children. “Now I live in a plastic tent with my wife and children. They no longer go to school. We complained to the governor’s office but nothing came of it. In fact the police at the governor’s office beat us up and some of us were arrested.”
  • MASKEA RAYMOND: 65 years old: “CMSK destroyed my four-roomed house and many of my belongings like beds and clothes. As a result of the demolition, my life is like that of an insect.”

Seeking redress

For over two years, all attempts by representatives of the affected community to reach a settlement with the company and to obtain compensation from CMSK and the Congolese authorities were unsuccessful.

RAID, ACIDH and FIDH have supported the efforts of the Kawama residents to seek compensation for their homes. In April 2012 they filed a complaint with the Belgian Government’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, after efforts to engage the parent company in negotiations were rebuffed.

According to the Congolese human rights organisation ACIDH , there had been an increasing number of violent incidents between mine police and suspected creuseurs (artisanal miners) over the period immediately preceding the demolitions.

Use of force and injuries 

  • 9 September 2008 M Nono Kanda was locked inside a hut which was then set on fire allegedly by police engaged in protecting the mine. On 11 September 2008 M. Kanda subsequently died of his injuries at the Sendwe hospital. 
  • 19 September 2008 M. Eradi Wakyona, who was visiting Kawama, was hit in the leg by a stray bullet, believed to have been fired from the CMSK concession.
  • 23 September 2008 at around 7pm M. Christian Yumba was allegedly severely beaten by a plainclothes police officer, Raymond Yombo of Bureau 2 (intelligence), after Yumba had tried to assist an injured friend, M. Amuna Pauni. Pauni’s legs had been crushed after allegedly being deliberately run over by a CMSK driver.