On Tuesday, April 22, Mamadou Drame, a shopkeeper from Guinea Bissau, walked to the Cuca neighbourhood in Luanda, where he often caught a taxi to take him home after a morning at work. To his horror, he suddenly realized that two policemen on motorcycles were headed in his direction. Mamadou didn’t have proper papers and he feared being deported, especially since thess type of policemen have a reputation for extorting money from undocumented immigrants. Mamadou took off running towards a nearby highway; the police took up the chase. As Mamadou tried to get away, a taxi hit him, killing him instantly.
The police tried to cordon off the area but their barrier was quickly broken down by a crowd closing in on the policemen responsible for Mamadou’s death. The crowd eventually managed to seize Mamadou’s body and held a spontaneous protest for about ten minutes “in order to prevent the police from taking the body”, according to witnesses.
At one point, the Guinean ambassador even came to the scene to try and call for calm, but to no avail. Police brought in reinforcements who eventually dispersed the crowd and reclaimed the body.
“My friend died because he was trying to escape from the police”
Like Mamadou, Moctar is a shopkeeper in Luanda. He was with Mamadou in the moments leading up to his death.
Mamadou was 45 years old. He came to Angola about seven months ago in order to make money for his wife and children, who are still in Guinea Bissau. We both worked as shopkeepers. When business was good, we could make about 500 dollars a month. Back at home in Guinea Bissau, we only made about 100 dollars a month.
My friend died because he was trying to escape from the police in order to continue supporting his wife and children. [Editor’s note: For the time being, Mamadou’s body is still being held by Angolan authorities.]
In Angola, there are frequent police checks aimed at finding undocumented immigrants, especially in Luanda, which is one of the most economically dynamic cities on the African continent. Last December, authorities arrested 2,161 people. Amongst those arrested, 884 – mostly immigrants from other African countries, but also 300 Chinese – were deported.