Controversy Erupts Over Destruction of Cemetery in Goma, DRC

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The recent revelation of the destruction of a cemetery in Goma has sparked widespread outrage and condemnation directed at the political and military authorities involved. Following the decision to transfer ownership of the cemetery to a business operator, graves were razed to make way for commercial activities. Despite the subsequent reversal of the cemetery’s transfer earlier this week, families affected by the desecration of graves are seeking legal action against the authorities responsible.

Images circulated on social media depict heavy machinery demolishing tombstones and families exhuming the remains of their loved ones, igniting a wave of shock and sharp criticism against the military authorities.

The cemetery, situated near the Goma Technical Industrial Institute, still housed graves as recently as 2023. However, it was relinquished to a businessman in late 2021 with intentions to establish a morgue and funeral parlor. In return, the businessman allocated 10 hectares of land on the outskirts of Sake, approximately 30 kilometers from Goma, to the province.

The transaction, viewed as bordering on corruption by the citizen movement La Lucha, has prompted calls for legal action. A spokesperson for the movement condemned the collusion between military personnel, tasked with combating armed groups amid a contentious state of siege, and unscrupulous businessmen. This incident underscores the peril faced by the population of North Kivu under military governance.

Meanwhile, in the capital Kinshasa, elected representatives from the province of North Kivu, including Michel Moto, have sounded the alarm to the central government about the risk of Goma being deprived of burial grounds. Moto described the desecration as a grave offense against local customs and Bantu culture, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation to hold those responsible to account and prevent such reprehensible acts from recurring.

Reports indicate that other cemeteries in the city may also be targeted by businessmen capitalizing on the inflated real estate prices in the area. As the community grapples with the ramifications of this shocking event, there is a resounding call for vigilance to safeguard sacred spaces and uphold cultural heritage amidst rapid urban development.


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