The family of a man tortured to death by Angolan police have petitioned President João Lourenço for justice. As reported by Maka Angola, João Alfredo Dala was beaten and mutilated during a 15-hour police interrogation as part of an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of an elderly pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Angola.
Evidence supplied to Maka Angola suggested that the pastor in question, Daniel Cem, had staged his own kidnapping as a form of revenge on the Church hierarchy after being sacked from his administrative role and losing his status and privileges.
Pastor Cem told officers investigating the case that the kidnappers bundled him into a truck he recognized as belonging to a member of his congregation, João Dala.
Mr Dala was taken in for questioning and a number of the officers from Angola's Criminal Investigation Service (Serviço de Investigação Criminal - SIC) recorded the interrogation on their cellphones and in video - one of the recordings that was passed around fellow officers before being leaked. It was evidence of torture.
João Dala died on September 1, 2018 as a result of the extensive injuries he sustained while in custody, according to his post-mortem. He had been banned from traveling abroad to seek proper medical care, which had been denied to him at home. Yet, he had survived long enough to bear witness as to how he sustained those injuries and to name the men responsible.
The gruesome images in the leaked recording corroborated Mr Dala's testimony. Yet, the officers accused of torture were not suspended, nor investigated. Later, some were even promoted.
Numerous witnesses can testify that João Dala was out of town on the day of the alleged kidnapping, using his pick-up truck to trade goods across Angola's northern border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Named police officers stand accused of scapegoating an innocent man, forcing a false confession through such extreme torture that eventually led to his death.
In the face of official inaction, his grieving family has published an open letter to the Angolan President to ask for his intervention to ensure Mr Dala's death is properly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
João Dala under torture, photographed by the torturers themselves.
Their petition, translated into English, follows:
We can barely mouth the words. Suffering makes them stick in our throats. We lose our voice when we think back to the profound injustice suffered by João Dala, our son, brother, and friend.
His death was murder, brutal murder at the hands of senior members of the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC). His death left us too weakened to sit at the door of Your Excellency's Palace to call for justice. But we are not so weakened as to be unable to write to you, to express our profound sorrow over what happened then, is happening now and should never happen again.
This is the minimum we can do in João Dala's memory: to recall it, to speak out without fear about an ongoing situation that is continuing to happen in our country, and to strive for a different future.
João Dala died on September 1, 2018 as a consequence of the injuries he received during 15 consecutive hours of torture at the hands of senior police officers (in December 2015).
Your Excellency, you know these men. You promoted them in April 2018. We are certain of one thing: there cannot be justice for João Dala while this country's police and security forces are led by individuals who have no compunction in ordering and committing acts of torture. These are individuals who appear to take a sadistic pleasure in torturing their fellow human beings.
We hereby accuse Fernando Manuel Bambi Receado and Lourenço Ngola Kina as the perpetrators of the acts of extreme violence which led eventually to the tragically early death of João Dala. We name these men as murderers, by acts of commission or omission.
Yet, in spite of their being responsible for the tragic killing of an Angolan citizen, you promoted Bambi Receado to the rank of Commissioner and Ngola Kina to the rank of Assistant Commissioner and provincial director of the SIC for the province of Uige.
We must ask: in a State of Law, how is this even possible?
Even as we witness these murderers receive career advancement, we are perplexed to confirm that there is no investigation, inquiry or any relevant action in connection with the denunciation of police torture that led to João Dala's death. The only consequence (to date) of this agonizing and unnecessary death was the premature and heartrending funeral of their victim.
Promoting these men appears to reward them for murder and it is unbearable that this should be actioned by the very man who carries all this country's hopes for its respect for justice and the fundamental human rights of its citizens. This is why we feel obliged to address an open letter to you: so that our appeal for justice for João Dala cannot be ignored and to prevent any repetition of such tragedies in our homeland.
Justice demands an exhaustive investigation into João Dala's death. Justice must identify those who perpetrated the acts which led to his death. Justice requires criminals to be penalized.
Angola cannot continue to be a home for the arrogance of those who advocate methods of illegal violence, and must not become by a byword for torturers. It will take great decisions to ensure that Angola is on the road to becoming a more just society, even if it takes small steps and small measures along the way.
The Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) ought to stand as a guarantor of order and peace of mind for Angolans, not as a hive of disresepct, torture and death.
This family had one of its most loved sons torn away and remains under a cloud of perpetual sorrow. All we ask of you is decisive action in the name of justice, which would bring some closure to our agony.
We ask for your vigorous intervention, not just to alleviate some of this family's pain, but to bring justice to Angola and ensure that no-one is above the law, that anyone who violates the legality and dignity of the human condition, whether they are SIC officers or not, will face consequences.
We may never cease to mourn and lament the loss of our loved one, but the knowledge that he received justice would be some consolation.
Signed in Malanje on February 11, 2019.
Helena Monteiro Ndala - Mother
Luzia José Sola - Widow
Deolinda Luís Dala - Daughter
Jeremias João Luís Dala - Son
Solade Luzia João Dala - Son
Ana Alfredo Dala - Sister
Anita Alfredo Dala - Sister
Barroso Alfredo Dala - Brother
Domingas Alfredo Dala - Sister
Linda Alfredo Dala - Sister
Ana Monteiro - Aunt
Domingos Luís Njila - Uncle
Sebastião Salvador - Uncle
Teresa Muondo - Aunt
Adão de Oliveira Ndombo - Cousin
António da Silva - Cousin
Barroso Sebastião Dala Salvador - Cousin
Bela Manuel Gonga - Cousin
Conceição Monteiro Massango - Cousin
Domingas Correia Mussungo - Cousin
Fernando Serrote Gonga - Cousin
Guilhermina Manuel Gonga Santos - Cousin
Linda Sebastião Dala Salvador - Cousin
Maria Monteiro Mussungo - Cousin
Zacarias Luís Santos - Cousin
Afonso Garcia Soares - Nephew
Ageu Zacarias Gonga dos Santos - Nephew
Amilton Gonga Soares - Nephew
Analdete Monteiro Ndombo - Niece
António Zacarias Gonga dos Santos - Nephew
Arménia Joaquina Dala Zua - Niece
Armindo José Mussungo Paciência - Nephew
Bento Zacarias Gonga dos Santos - Nephew
Bernardeth Gonga Soares - Niece
Bernabé Dala Zua - Nephew
Branca Gonga Soares - Niece
Cesaltina Mussungo de Oliveira - Niece
Domingos Manuel Gonga - Nephew
Eduardo Alfredo Dala - Nephew
Esperança João Alfredo Dala - Niece
Ezídio Adão de Oliveira - Nephew
Helena Patrícia Zua Dala
Jecelina Adriano Monteiro Fernando - Nephew
Letícia Monteiro de Oliveira - Niece
Manuel Zacarias Gonga dos Santos - Nephew
Marcela Monteiro Dala - Niece
Marco Garcia Soares - Nephew
Maria Mussungo Paciência - Niece
Mário Adriano Monteiro Sobrinho Fernando - Nephew
Marinela Dombo de Oliveira - Niece
Matundu Alfredo Yenge - Nephew
Miguel Pedro Gonga - Nephew
Pedro Mondu Gonga - Nephew
Pedro Zacarias Gonga dos Santos - Nephew
Suzana Monteiro Dala - Niece
Teresa Gonga dos Santos - Niece
Valente Pacheco Monteiro Dala - Nephew
Zacarias Gonga dos Santos - Nephew