Hundreds of people trooped out on Monday at the Matete High Court, Kinshasa, to witness the trial of four individuals accused of having raped women in a health centre in Kinseso, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The trial, which started at 5:20 pm, however, had to be adjourned and is scheduled to continue on Tuesday at 9 am.
The four individuals were accused of invading the Kinseso Health Centre at night between Thursday and Friday, September 11, with cutlasses and other local arms, which they used to threaten the lives of women at the facility before having forceful intercourse with them. Among the victims were two young nurses.
The four are said to be members of a gang of over 50 who similarly invaded the “Revolution” Maternity and Health Centre that night to commit heinous offences.
After raping the women, the assailants helped themselves to valuables belonging to the nurses and patients as well as some properties of the health centre.
Congolese Minister of Gender, the Family and Children has condemned the criminal acts and promised to confer with her colleagues at the Ministries of Interior, Justice, and Security to ensure that adequate punishment meted out to those who commit acts of rape in the country.
DR Congo has battled with incidents of rape for decades as it is often perpetrated by rebel combatants and soldiers of the national army who view women as booties of war.
Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist who has specialised in repairing the physical damage done on raped women, won the nobel peace prize in 2019 for his work for the women.
Rebel combatants and other individuals who feel threatened by his works have sought to intimidate the doctor, forcing the United Nations to send security personnel to guard his health facility and residence last week.
His clinic has been attacked a number of times in the past.