Congolese refugee Moïse Kabamgabe beaten to death in Rio de Janeiro after asking for wages

When Moïse Kabamgabe demanded his payment for two days of work, his boss decided to kill him, says family

February 02, 2022 by Brasil de Fato
24-year-old Moïse Kabamgabe was found dead on January 24 after being beaten to death. (Photo via: @PTRJ13 on Twitter)

24-year-old Moïse Kabamgabe, a Congolese migrant living in Rio de Janeiro, was found dead on January 24 after being beaten to death. Kabamgabe had gone to the Tropicália kiosk, in the Barra da Tijuca beach, to collect payment for working two days as a kitchen helper, according to family members. In response, men from the kiosk beat him for 15 minutes until his death.

In an interview with Folha de S. Paulo, Mamanu Idumba Edou, Moïse’s uncle, said that Moïse went to collect his overdue salary, when the manager of the establishment took a piece of wood and began to attack him.

“He called four more people who jumped on Moise, grabbed him from behind, choked him, and grabbed a piece of wood. They then started hitting him on the head,” says Edou, recounting the scenes the family says they saw on security camera footage from the venue.

The police did not arrive until 40 minutes later. Kabamgabe was found on a ladder, tied up and already dead.

A man who claims to have participated in the murder of Moïse Kabamgabe turned himself in to the police on Tuesday afternoon, February 1. The suspect presented himself at the 34th Precinct, in Bangu, in the western zone of Rio de Janeiro, and was sent to the Homicide Precinct. He told police officers that “he did not intend to take anyone’s life”.

Responses from the government and human rights defenders

Also on February 1, the government of the state of Rio de Janeiro announced that it will suspend the operation permit of the Tropicália kiosk. Orla Rio, which manages several kiosks in the city, will suspend the operation of the establishment until investigations are concluded.

Earlier, the president of the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, deputy Dani Monteiro of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), who works in the human rights sector of the Brazilian Bar Association in the state (OAB-RJ) met with Moïse’s family.

In a joint note, Cáritas RJ, UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), and IOM (International Organization for Migration) detailed how Moïse arrived in Brazil as a child, accompanied by his brothers. Once in the country, he and his family were recognized as refugees by the Brazilian government.

“He was a very dear person to the entire PARES Caritas RJ team, who saw him grow and become integrated. At this moment, the organizations offer their sincere condolences and solidarity to Moïse’s family and to the Congolese community residing in Brazil,” reads an excerpt from the statement.

The Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo said they are in contact with Moïse’s family, who are demanding a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The embassy is also demanding answers from the Brazilian government regarding investigations into other Congolese migrants killed in the country.

Family demands justice

Last Saturday, January 29, the victim’s family held a protest demanding information about the investigations. According to Moïse’s brother, Djodjo Baraka Kabagambe, Moïse had his hands and legs tied. 

Family members only found out about the death on Tuesday morning, January 25, almost 12 hours after the crime. The owner of the kiosk has not yet been released and is expected to give a statement to the police on Tuesday.

This piece is based on reports from Brasil de Fato.