Gang Leader in DR Congo Releases Abducted Catholic Nun to Avoid “Problems with the Pope”

Archbishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu with Sr. Lucie Mwasenga in Lubumbashi on 10 May 2023. Credit: Lubumbashi Archdiocese

A gang leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has freed a Catholic Nun a few hours after her kidnapping in the region covered by the country’s Catholic Archdiocese of Lubumbashi, saying he did not want to have “problems with the Pope, the Archbishop, and especially with the Catholic Church”.

Paying a visit to Sr. Lucie Mwasenga, a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary of Kongolo on Wednesday, May 10, Archbishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu of Lubumbashi said that the visit was meant to express his closeness with “a daughter of the Church”.

“For me, it is a visit that has a pastoral significance first of all because it is a daughter of the church, a consecrated person, and as said in an adage it is in misfortune that one recognizes the true friends. It is in the misfortune that one must recognize also the true father,” Archbishop Muteba said.

Sr. Lucie was abducted on April 26 in Lubumbashi, a city in Southeastern DRC, and released a few hours later on the orders of the kidnapping gang leader.

The Catholic Nun was leaving the University of Lubumbashi where she is pursuing a medical course when her kidnappers ambushed her at around 6 p.m. She was forced to enter a cab that had a male driver and a female passenger in the back seat.


A few minutes later, she noticed that the driver had changed his route. “Some time later, the sister began to feel dizzy, because the wipe was soaked in a toxic product, she had become inert and could no longer speak,” Sr. Marie Clementine Chungu, the Secretary General of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary of Kongolo said, recounting the experience of Sr. Lucie.

When she woke up, the Nun is said to have found herself in a large house with two green gates. There she saw many young people tied up.

Sr. Lucie recounted to the Secretary General of her Congregation that as one of the kidnappers was pulling her out of the vehicle, she saw a lady with Asian features, “probably Chinese.”

On seeing Sr. Lucie, the supposed gang leader is said to have become very angry with her companions, saying, “I don't want to have any problems with the Pope, the Archbishop, and especially with the Catholic Church. I don't want to bring the curse into my business, return it, to where you took it.”

At the gang leader’s command, Sr. Lucies is said to have been driven back in another car with smoked windows to a gas station at the entrance to the city of Lubumbashi from Likasi. 

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Another cab driver, who recognized her by her religious attire, reportedly took her to her community.

In his message when he visited Sr. Lucie, Archbishop Muteba of Lubumbashi Archdiocese condemned insecurity in DRC’s second-largest city, noting that the people under his pastoral care were “living like slaves” in their own homes.

“I would like to condemn with the last energy the generalized insecurity in the city of Lubumbashi. It is inadmissible because we have become slaves at home in our own city,” the Congolese Catholic Archbishop said.

He described the kidnapping of Sr. Lucie, in particular, as “diabolical”, saying, “In the name of the population of Lubumbashi, I would like to condemn this diabolical act of kidnapping of a nun and a student. We would like to put an immediate end to this kind of situation because the dignity of the person obliges the authorities to be able to put everyone in security.”

“The security service must work hard so that we can put an end to this insecurity which makes us foreigners in our own city of Lubumbashi,” Archbishop Muteba said, and added, “I would also like to ask the whole population to know that it is only by activating solidarity that we can put an end to this insecurity that we are deploring.”


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.