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Cameroonian Catholic Bishop in “shock, sorrow” Following Murder of Young Girl by Policeman

Late Enondiale Tchuengia Carolaise. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The murder of a young female pupil by a policeman in Cameroon is shocking and frighting, a Catholic Bishop in the Central African nation who saw the lifeless body of the “six- year-old” girl has said.

On Thursday, October 14, a policeman reportedly opened fire on a car the girl was traveling in Cameroon’s city of Buea “after the driver refused to stop for a search”, BBC News has reported.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Friday, October 15, the Local Ordinary of Buea Diocese describes the state of the girl’s body following the shooting. 

“I witnessed with shock, sorrow, horror and fright, the deformed head on the lifeless body of six- year-old, Enondiale Tchuengia Carolaise, a class one pupil of CUlB Academy of Talents Primary School Molyko, Buea, who was brutally murdered Thursday, October 14, 2021 at about 7:50 a.m.,” Bishop Michael Bibi says.

In his statement dated Thursday, October 14, Bishop Bibi adds, “The innocent child was shot dead by a gendarme officer opposite the Divine Mercy Co-Cathedral, Molyko, Buea as her mother was accompanying her to school.”

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“The angry crowd caught the gendarme officer who carried out the act as he attempted to escape and lynched him to death,” the Cameroonian Bishop recalls the events of October 14, and adds, “The late Carolaise was buried around 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Saint Anthony of Padua’s Parish Cemetery Buea Town.”

“I feel the pains of the family of the late Carolaise and those who have lost their loved ones in similar circumstances,” the Catholic Bishop says, adding, “I extend my condolences to the bereaved families and urge you all to pray for the dead.”

He promises to have an organized session of prayer for the late young girl saying, “The Diocese of Buea shall organize a special Mass to pray for her in the nearest future.”

Dozens of people reportedly took to the streets to protest the killing of the girl, some waving tree branches in a sign of peace, others waving 500-franc notes (worth about $0.88), which they said was how much the girl’s parents refused to pay before the police officer opened fire.

In his October 14 statement, Bishop Bibi condemns the murder of the pupil and the lynching of the police officer saying, “I join my voice to so many others in condemning the horrific shooting at a car that led to the death of an innocent child simply because the driver did not comply with security checks.”

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“I equally condemn the killing of the gendarme officer who committed the act by the mob, because no one has the right to take away human life,” the Catholic Bishop adds.

He continues, “The Church has always upheld the right to life for every individual. This right flows from the fact that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27), and thus possesses human dignity, no matter the circumstances.”

Even when people dishonor the dignity of others, or deprive them of human life by their actions as in the case at hand, Bishop Bibi notes, “we must still recognize their human dignity and right to life, which cannot be lost even by the vilest offence.”

Authorities in Cameroon have condemned the murder of Carolaise and made an appeal for calm following the incident.

The leadership of Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense has been quoted as describing the policeman’s actions as “inappropriate, unsuited to the circumstances and clearly disproportionate to the irrelevant behavior of the driver.”

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On his part, the governor of the Southwest Region that covers Buea, Bernard Okalia Bilai, advocated for sobriety telling journalists October 14, “We urge the public to be calm; this is a sad and unfortunate incident.” 

The Anglophone regions of Cameroon, the North West and the South West, plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent.

An armed movement of separatists claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.

Since then, the violent conflict has led to the displacement of over 679,000 people. More than 600,000 children have not been able to go to school in the two regions, and at least 3,000 lives have been lost during the four-year skirmishes.

In August, a seven-year-old pupil at St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School in Cameroon’s Kumbo Diocese was killed by a stray bullet during a crossfire between Cameroonian military and militants near the learning institution, a Catholic Priest told ACI Africa.

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In his one-page statement dated October 14, Bishop Bibi says, “The civilian population has continued to pay the price of the reckless actions of shocking violence either from the security forces or the armed groups since the outbreak of the ongoing crisis, and this has in one way or another, contributed to radicalize some of them.”

“Let us continue to pray for justice, peace and harmony in our Country,” the Cameroonian Bishop implores, and urges security agents to “show more restraint in carrying out security operations that could put at risk the lives of innocent civilians.”