The following testimonies were collected by Human Rights Watch researchers on research mission to Katanga in March-April 2006.

Mai Mai Testimonies

The Mai Mai were against our local chiefs. They had refused recruitment of the local youth into the Mai Mai. They had also refused to attend a feast given by Gedeon [the Mai Mai leader]. So they arrested them.

It was a night and we were in the forest where we had fled for safety. Six Mai Mai came to find the local chiefs. They were the ones who worked with the Mai Mai leader, Gedeon. We all thought we were going to die. The Mai Mai took the chiefs to Kisele village. We didn’t know what would happen, so someone decided to secretly follow them. He found blood on the road and then a short distance away discovered the bodies of the two chiefs. Their faces had been cut off, as had their hands and feet. Their hearts had been cut out of their bodies. When we heard this, we were all terrified and we fled.

--A woman from Kisele village

While we were in the fields looking for food a group of Mai Mai found us.  There were seven of them.  They asked why the chief had returned and accused us of being against them.  They told us we were going to die.  They took [the chief], tied him up and started to beat him very hard.  Then they killed him.  They split him open and cut him up into pieces.  I saw this myself.  I was only a few meters away. They yelled a me to go and said they would come and find me that night.  I ran for my life.

--A relative of the chief present at his murder

It was in 2004. A group of Mai Mai arrived in my village. They called us to join them. They said if we refused they would kill us. They sprayed us with the ‘labo’ [magic water]. I was scared they would kill me so I did what they said

--A community leader

I was working in the fields when the Mai Mai came to arrest me. They called me a witch. I didn’t know what they were talking about. The Mai Mai leader came with his wife and some others. The wife held my arms behind my back. Then they stripped me and hit me with a big stick. They hit me everywhere. They asked for money and I gave them what I had. Then they marched me to the Mai Mai headquarters. I was naked and everyone in the village saw me this way. The Mai Mai continued to beat me in public. Then they threw me into prison where they abused me further. They took a cob of corn and put it into my vagina. It hurt. I bled for days afterwards and I was so bruised.

Thank God my children came later that day and paid for me to be released. I had never had any problems with the Mai Mai before and I was not a witch. Now I am very scared. I don’t dare to walk by myself anymore. I don’t know what will happen to me

--A 65 year old widow accused of being a witch

The Mai Mai came to my house and arrested me. They accused me of being a witch. They took me to the prison and were hitting me the whole way. I found many other women in the prison when I arrived. They were also accused of being witches. There must have been more than 20 of us. Many of them were old. They beat us everyday in the prison.

On the third day, one of the Mai Mai took me away into another room. He pulled off my skirt. He said he was going to kill me. He took out a knife and I was very scared. He spread my legs and then he cut off my clitoris. He put it in a cup. I was bleeding a lot. It was very painful. They did the same to three other women…

Later they killed two of the women who had also been cut like me. They did it in public. They stripped them naked, cut off their breasts and then shot them. Lots of people saw this. One of them was the wife of Laurent who I knew and the others was a women from Funga village.

My family paid for me to be released and I went to get treatment. But to this day I suffer from dizzy spells. I will never be the same.

--A 40 year old women accused of being a witch

The Mai Mai made us all come to the centre of the village and there they destroyed our election cards in front of us. They selected a group of men from the crowd, about 10 of them. One of them was my husband. They said they were going to take them to Gedeon [a Mai Mai leader] to be judged. They said the men had to explain why we had gone over to the government side. They said we were traitors. I started to cry. They took the men away. They had not gone far and then we heard shots being fired. They had killed our men.

--The 55 year old wife of one of the victims

One day the Mai Mai arrived at my house. They forced me to go with them. I was married and didn’t want to but they said they would kill me. They took me to [their commander] and he raped me. I fled some time later but they found me again and took me back to him. He raped me many times as did two other Mai Mai.

-- A 24 year old woman

In June 2005 we were told to leave our homes and go into the forest. Gedeon [the Mai Mai leader] commanded us to do this. It was obligatory for us to leave. We had no choice. If we stayed they would have accused us of being with the government soldiers and would have killed us. After we left our homes, the Mai Mai burned them. They did this in many villages… We spent four months in the forest. We could not leave as the Mai Mai controlled us. We were very afraid.

--A 45 year old father of six children

The population is traumatized by the Mai Mai.  The Mai Mai kill and rape.  They don't respect life.  They attacked numerous villages.  Some 14 villages were burned to the ground. When the government [soldiers] started to deal with the problem the population became displaced and came here to our tiny village to seek help.  I asked for humanitarian assistance as we simply didn’t have enough in reserve to deal with the problem.

--Local village administrator, Dubie village

We were forced to live in the forest by the Mai Mai because of the war between the Mai Mai and the government soldiers. We had no power to made decisions. We were just ordered. We were not allowed to leave the forest. It was impossible to run away as the Mai Mai were everywhere.

When we heard the government soldiers were coming to our village, we were scared and helpless and thought war would break-out. We decided to find a way to go over to the government side so we escaped as a group. When we arrived we found the government soldiers. It was raining and we had to stay outside the whole night. There was no shelter for us. The next day the soldiers took some of our chickens and ducks. That was our welcome! All of us were then told to go to Dubie village by the soldiers where there were camps for us to stay in. I wanted to go back home, but we have not been allowed. Life in the camps is not good. I don't have enough food. Some of my friends have been the victims of theft by the government soldiers. They take our tents, cooking pots, blankets and other things.

--A 38 year old father of three in Dubie displacement camp

FARDC Abuses

We were living in our village when the Mai-Mai came and forced all the young boys to join their organization. Once we were given their [magic] water we became Mai-Mai. We had no choice. When the [government] soldiers came they called me, as they said that I was a Mai-Mai. They started to beat me. They took a cloth and put it on the fire and then they burned my lips. They also put fire to my head. I was beaten on the buttocks and on the lower abdomen with sticks of bamboo. I cannot remember how many times they hit me, but it went on for a long time. I thought I was going to die because of the severe beatings.

--A 24 year old man held in FARDC military prison accused of being a Mai Mai

I was living in the fields when one day I saw the government soldiers arriving. They took me and hit me, and they told me I was a Mai-Mai because I had been staying in the fields. They used sticks and iron wire to hit me. They brought me to the prison….and used the same methods. I was tied up with a rubber cord. For the whole three weeks I spent in prison in Kyubo my wrists were tied behind my back and my ankles were tied. I had to lie on the floor. I was hit each day during the three weeks I was there. My wife was also imprisoned. They took off her clothes and beat her in front of me, in front of everybody by the soldiers.

--A 54 year old man held in a FARDC prison accused of being a Mai Mai

I was arrested by the government soldiers for being a Mai Mai. They took me to the prison and beat me along the way with bamboo sticks. They arrested about 115 of us. In the prison the military police would hit us three times every day - 150 strokes in the morning, 50 strokes in the afternoon and another 25 strokes in the evening. They forced us to lie naked on the ground and then they would hit us one by one. They said they wanted to kill us as we were Mai Mai. They called these beatings their “café”. We were given no food or water and by the 10th day people started to die from lack of water and the beatings. I had to help the soldiers carry the bodies out of the cells. I carried at least nine bodies. I was in prison for about two weeks and there were more deaths after I left. When they released me they said it was all over, but I am not at ease. I fear I could be re-arrested again at any time.

--Former prisoner at Mitwaba prison

I fled from the Mai Mai who had raped me and ran to Mitwaba. Then once I got to Mitwaba the government soldiers arrested me and said I was a Mai Mai since I had been with them. I told them that the Mai Mai had forced me to stay with them, but it didn’t matter. The soldiers put me in prison for two weeks and hit me every day and raped me. Every time there was a guard rotation I was raped again. Often it was three or four soldiers one after the other. They also beat me with bamboo sticks on my back and my buttocks. Sometimes the beatings would last for more than an hour. I was kept in a cell with other women and they were raped and beaten as well. At the time I was arrested I was four months pregnant but I aborted in prison due to the beatings and the rape. I still don’t feel well even though it has been a year since I was released.

--Former 26 year old female prisoner held at Mitwaba prison

I was at home with my family. It was around 8pm when the government soldiers arrived. There were about five of them. They came and tied me up, together with around 10 other people. They asked me for money. They said if I did not have any, they would conclude that I was a Mai-Mai. They took money from our pockets, they ripped our clothing and they took our belts. I had no money, so they started to beat me. They hit my hand and it is now deformed. The beat me on the back with a wooden stick. My family then came with 2,000 Francs congolaise [$6] to release me. Then I was untied and freed.

--Victim of FARDC extortion