On July 24, 2021, a police officer shot and killed Honoré Shama, a University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN) student, while Shama filmed a video for a cinema course.
Shama and a group of students were reportedly filming a video for a course when police officers confronted them and accused Shama of not wearing a face mask, a violation of a compulsory Covid-related mask mandate carrying a fine of 10,000 Congolese Francs. Student witnesses allege that even though Shama showed the officer a face mask, the officer demanded that Shama pay the fine. Police reportedly then shot and killed Shama. A forensic report reportedly showed that Shama was shot five times. Another student, Sarah Mfumu, was reportedly hospitalized from injuries sustained at the hands of police. According to Actualite, in Kinshasa, police have been accused of abusing the mask mandate by personally collecting fine payments without issuing any official documentation.
On August 9, a court convicted and sentenced two police officers to two life in prison on charges of murder and attempted murder and ordered them to pay $50,000 USD to Shama’s family and $5,000 to Mfumu’s family. As of September 17, authorities are still searching for another police officer implicated in Shama’s death.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of lethal force and the death of a student during an academic assignment. SAR further offers condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased student. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students engaging in academic work undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).