By Spy Uganda
Patrice Lumumba, who was one of Africa’s greatest Pan-Africanists, was abducted, tortured and later brutally murdered by a combined force of the Congolese, American and Belgian government officials, in 1961.
However, despite being a great African revolutionary, the officials of governments that spearheaded Lumumba’s murder have since done everything possible to malign Lumumba’s soul and to shroud his murder with a series of conspiracy theories.
The aim of this article therefore is not to give you a detailed biography of Patrice Lumumba, plus giving an account of his assassination and how it was aided by the US Government (CIA) and the Belgian Government.
If you wish to know more about the life story, legacy or even philosophies of Lumumba, we suggest you engage in further reading as that will be beyond the scope of this article.
But in summary, we can tell you that Lumumba was a great African leader who stood against slavery (of whatever form), colonialism and neo-colonialism. All Lumumba wanted was the good of Africa and Congo.
Patrice Émery [Hemery] Lumumba lived from 2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961. Lumumba was a Congolese politician and pro-independence leader who also was the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo from June to September 1960 (four months).
Lumumba played an extremely significant role in the transformation of the Congo from just a colony of Belgium into a full-blown independent republic. His ideologies echoed African nationalism and Pan-Africanism, Lumumba was the leader of the Congolese National Movement (MNC) party from the year 1958 until his assassination in 1961.
Just briefly after Congo got its independence in 1960, a mutiny broke out in the army because of some Belgian commanders who refused to leave Congo.
As a mutiny broke out in the Congolese federal army, it marked the beginning of the Congo Crisis. Lumumba, being who he was, made an urgent appeal to the United States of America and the United Nations for help to conquer the Belgian-sponsored “Katangan” secessionists led by “Moise Tshombe”.
Both the UN and the US refused, and Lumumba had no option but to turn to the Soviet Union (Russia) for support.
This single act led to growing differences and bitterness with President Joseph Kasa-Vubu and chief-of-staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, as well as with the United States of America and Belgium, who strongly and unendingly opposed the Soviet Union in the “Cold War”.
Belgium did not leave Congo however and the United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld failed or should we say refused to provide the Congolese government with military assistance as requested by Lumumba and sanctioned by the Security Council.
The UN Secretary-General also ignored Lumumba’s appeal to send troops to Katanga but instead chose to negotiate with the secession leader “Moise Tshombe”.
Lumumba’s Brutal Murder
It’s surprising that since January 17, 1961, no one has been held accountable for the extremely brutal and horrific murder of Patrice Lumumba who was shot dead with two of his ministers, Joseph Okito and Maurice Molo.
The United States was a strong ally of Belgium and they had a great stake in Congo’s uranium. The US is suspected to have planned the assassination as disclosed by a source in the book, “Death in the Congo”, written by Emmanuel Gerard and published in the year 2015.
The United States President at that time who was Dwight Eisenhower, was reported to have given the assassination order without any discussion. Lawrence Devlin, who was CIA station chief in Congo at the time told the BBC in 2000 that an initial CIA plan to spice Lumumba’s toothpaste with lethal substance was never carried out successfully.
Exactly by September, the Congolese President Kasavubu had dismissed Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister after receiving a telegram from the Belgian Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens.
Lumumba on the other side, also declared Kasavubu deposed. This feud paved way for the takeover by Congolese army chief Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko who put Lumumba under house arrest, guarded by his troops and the United Nations troops.
Lumumba escaped in late November with his wife and baby boy hid in the trunk of a car leaving his residence. They headed towards the east where he had some very loyal followers in Kisangani (which was then Stanleyville).
Lumumba engaged villagers on his way and on the evening of December 2 as he, his wife and baby son waited for a ferry to cross the Sankuru River, Mobutu’s forces appeared.
Mobutu immediately ordered Lumumba’s detention at a high-security military prison at Thysville which was a hundred miles from Léopoldville.
For a whole six weeks, Lumumba was kept in different cells and that’s where he wrote heart touching letters to the United Nations for intervention and help and also to his dear wife to calm her nerves.
While Lumumba’s speeches from prison were definitely creating confusion, the Belgian Minister of African Affairs Harold d’Aspremont Lynden was putting pressure on the Mobutu led government to move Lumumba from Thysville where he could be freed by his supporters.
Harold Lynden much later insisted on Lumumba being transferred to Katanga despite a decision by the Belgian parliament against the idea because they believed it will result in his death.
Lumumba and his two former ministers were later flown to Katanga on January 17 while being beaten and tortured so badly that the pilot of the plane warned that the violence was threatening the flight.
They finally arrived at the Elizabethville airport and were taken into custody by Katangese police and military under the direct supervision of Belgian forces.
Lumumba and his ministers were driven to a colonial villa owned by a wealthy Belgian man in the person of Villa Brouwer, and the beatings and torture continued by both the Congolese and Belgian forces.
Because of the severity of the beating and torture, by that evening, Lumumba and his ministers were semi-conscious and had been visited by Katangese cabinet ministers and President Tshombe in person.
Later around 10:00PM in the night, a decision was taken on their different fates and they were dragged like ordinary criminals from Villa Brouwer into a nearby bush where a firing squad awaited them.
The horrific execution was supervised and commanded by Belgian Captain Julien Gat and Belgian Police Commissioner Frans Verschurre. Lumumba and his friends were shot separately by a big tree as President Tshombe and two of his cabinet ministers watched the horrific scenario. Their bodies were quickly thrown into different shallow graves.
To conceal their horrific crimes, the next morning which was January 18, the Interior Minister of Congo Godfried Munongo called a senior Belgian policeman, Gerard Soete, to his office and ordered that the bodies of Lumumba and his men be dismembered and destroyed.
Soete recalls the minister saying “You find a way and destroy them, you make them just disappear. How you do it, doesn’t interest me at all. All I want is that this happens and they should disappear. Once this is done nobody will ever talk about it. Finished, ”- That was Munongo’s order.
Some reports say that he and another helper exhumed the corpses and “hacked them into pieces” before putting them into acid.
Because there were only two big bottles of acid available, they dissolved what they could with those bottles of acid and destroyed whatever remained in the fire.
In a BBC documentary titled “Who Killed Lumumba” which aired in the year 2000, Soete was quoted saying: “We were there for two complete days. We did things even animals wouldn’t do. And that’s why we were so drunk, stone drunk. We couldn’t do things like that. Cut your own, your own, no, no, no. Nobody could say that today, it’s there, it happened. That’s impossible, you couldn’t, ”.
Exactly as planned by the government, Patrice Lumumba’s death was announced one month later on February 13, 1961.
Interior Minister Munongo made an announcement that Lumumba and the other two prisoners killed their guards and escaped in a getaway vehicle before they were recognized by villagers, who beat them to death.
The truth remained hidden despite international protests at all Belgian embassies nationwide until the year 1999 when Author Ludo De Witte published a book titled, The Assassination of Lumumba. The book presented some new evidence taken from documents long hidden in government archives and interviews of surviving witnesses.
The Belgian Parliament set up a commission of inquiry three months after this revealing book was published to clearly determine the circumstances of the assassination of Lumumba and also if the Belgian government was in any way involved.
The commission presented a report after 18 months of investigation in 2002. The commission concluded that Belgium had a “moral responsibility in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba” and that it “acted under severe pressure from the Belgian public, which had heard for numerous days about violence against Belgian citizens in the Republic of Congo.”
The report further said there were some plans to kill Lumumba and the Belgian government did show little or no respect for the sovereign and independent status of the Congolese government.
The commission also confirmed and exposed that secret funds (which was about $8 million today) were used to finance the policies against the Patrice Lumumba government by the Ministry of African Affairs.
The commission’s report still further stated that the gruesome execution was carried out by Kantangese authorities in the presence of the Belgian officials and there was no evidence to prove that Belgium or any of its officials were part of the decision-making to kill Patrice Lumumba.
The Belgian government further admitted to having had an “undeniable responsibility in the events that led to Lumumba’s murder” but they, however, did not take full responsibility for the crime and instead issued a public pardon to the Belgians involved in the assassination of Lumumba.
The foreign minister of Belgium at the time in the person of Louis Michel, said: “The Belgian government feels it should extend to the family of Patrice Lumumba … and also to the Congolese people, its profound and sincere regrets and apologies for the pain inflicted upon them.”
This plea was accepted by Patrice Lumumba’s son in the person of Francois Lumumba, who later filed court cases against the Belgium government for hiding its role in the assassination of his father.
Just in January 2016, it was reported that a tooth of Lumumba was seen and seized in the former home of police officer Gerard Soete who died subsequently in 2000 during the parliamentary inquiry.
In his novel (1978), the Belgian who helped in dissolving Lumumba’s body in acid described the taking of two teeth, two fingers and some bullets from Lumumba’s body. This man later declared that he had thrown the body parts into the sea.