In Rio de Janeiro, blood on the beach
By Anne Vigna

Posted on May 18, 2022 at 1:36 a.m. – Updated on May 18, 2022 at 1:11 p.m.

The television news had warned: “Warning, shocking images. » On screen, Brazilian viewers were able to see three men throw themselves at a beach boy who works in one of the kiosks along the beaches of Barra da Tijuca, a very popular district of Rio de Janeiro. The waiter, a young Congolese, receives 30 blows from the stick in less than a quarter of an hour; his attackers, colleagues, tie him up, beat him again with their fists, then try to resuscitate him, in vain. On the spot, this day of January, no witness of the scene intervenes.

Brazil has since learned to know the name and face of the victim, Moïse Mugenyi Kabagambe, a cap screwed on his forehead, a still baby face and laughing eyes. His name was chanted during demonstrations in February and he is now at the center of an investigation by the public ministry of labour. Moïse Mugenyi Kabagambe was one of those many beach boys who go back and forth between the kiosk and customers sitting on their towels, selling drinks and food, on which he received 10%, paid black. He thus walked several kilometers, on sunny days, to earn 30 euros paid from hand to hand. As many customers pay by credit card, the cash register was often empty at the end of the day and the boys had to wait until the next day to be paid.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Brazil outraged after the murder of a Congolese in Rio de Janeiro

This January 24, Moïse Mugenyi Kabagambe, 24, told his friends that he was going to collect several days’ salary and buy a case of beer to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It takes a whole box when the Congolese community gathers in the Madureira district to party. When he approaches the kiosk, customers are still seated in front of a coconut. At the end of the service, the beach boy seems to claim his salary. The video from the surveillance camera shows a first verbal exchange between the young Congolese and one of his colleagues. The latter grabs a stick, Moses a chair, which he puts down before opening the freezer. “He must have thought, ‘I pay myself in beers, and that solves the problem'”, understands his friend Daniel Diowo Otshudi. Moïse Mugenyi Kabagambe will not have time to remove a single bottle from the freezer. His three attackers are now behind bars and two other clients are waiting, free, for an indictment for failure to assist a person in danger.

Flee a country at war

Thanks to the television news, all of Brazil was able to witness this outburst of violence and the indifference of the witnesses. To explain them, the link was quickly made with the skin color of the server: in this country, 75.5% of homicide victims in 2020 were black people. “If Moses had been white, he would be alive today, I’m sure. In Brazil, if you hit a black man, everyone thinks he’s a thief and too bad for him. On the other hand, if you attack a white man, people react,” protests his older brother, Sammy.

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