Night police roadblocks have reappeared in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC, to track down taxis accused of kidnapping, assaulting and ransoming helpless passengers.
Their "Road-block" operation allows ordinary vehicles to pass and only stops taxis, recognizable by their yellow color, ordered to park on the side and open their trunk.
The aim is to track down kidnappers disguised as taxi drivers and their accomplices, sometimes bogus passengers. This mode of kidnapping is not new in Kinshasa but it is somehow seeing an increase according to the police.
"Before, there was a simple kidnapping, the victim was stripped and then abandoned. But this time, they are starting to demand a ransom from the family," Colonel Miguel Bagaya, head of the military, told the Congolese press on Tuesday. national police operations.
Despite the inconvenience caused in the movement of the population, "these traffic jams are beneficial" in slowing down "the mobility of criminals," he said.
The operation made it possible to reduce the cases of kidnappings, from 7 to 8 per day to one or none, according to him, a claim corroborated by colonel Mwana Mputu, spokesperson of the Kinshasa police.
"These constant calls for help has reached the ears of those in power and without delay they instructed the forces of law and order to take over the city with police security measures, which began with the reinforcement of patrols." colonel Mwana Mputu, spokesperson of the Kinshasa police.
Brigitte Sharadi is an activist and has herself been a victim of kidnapping. She is now leading a campaign against it. "I have heard women crying about this but when I too experienced it, I thought 'no, we must save others, we must save lives.' That's how all this began, we made a promise that what happened to us wouldn't happen to others." she explained.
Kinshasa is the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Once a site of fishing and trading villages, it is now a megacity with a population of about 16 million.