An "odious crime committed against a peaceful and defenceless servant of God," is how the Christians of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu are mourning the murder of Sr. Marie-Claire Kahambu. Sr. Marie-Claire, a Franciscan religious sister, was killed in Bukavu this week on Tuesday as she worked in her office at a girls’ training centre that she was running.
According to Jimmy Ndumba of “Beni Lubero Online,” two men wielding knives, on the afternoon of 29 November, scaled the wall of the Mater Dei Parish, burst into the office of Sr. Marie Claire and savagely stabbed her several times. They got away with some money belonging to the centre.
Hundreds of furious residents later demonstrated at the parish seeking justice. Two men have since been apprehended and charged with the murder of Sr. Marie-Claire. The two have been committed to the Bukavu High Court.
Ironically, as the court case in Bukavu got under way, the Church, was celebrating the feast of Blessed Clementine Anuarite (1940-1964), virgin and martyr of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Blessed Anuarite was killed in Isiro during the Samba rebellion of the 1960s. She is a martyr of chastity and forgiveness, and 1 December is her feast day.
On 20 March 2016, Fr. Vincent Machozi was killed in Bukavu. Fr. Machozi had started an online publication, “Beni Lubero,” where he posted graphic pictures of victims of the violence in Kivu. Some of the posts identified killers.
It is not just priests and the religious that are a victims of the violence in Congo’s Kivu area. The local civilian population might not make news but they bear the brunt of most of the violence.
The perpetrators of the violence include dozens of heavily armed groups marauding in the area. Some of the militia have links to neighbouring countries. They stoke ethnic rivalries; fight proxy wars and vie for control of Congo’s valuable natural resources in the area. There are also criminal gangs allied to or that have links with Congo DR's security forces. The aim of all the senseless violence is to benefit from illegal mining, smuggling and poaching,