Brazilian authorities have shut down a beachside kiosk in Rio de Janeiro after a 23-year-old Congolese migrant was beaten to death, Rio de Janeiro’s Civil Police said Wednesday.
Moise Kabagambe was seen in a video from the Tropicalia beach kiosk’s security cameras being attacked by a group of men who beat him repeatedly with a club and a baseball bat, according to police, who have opened an investigation into his death.
Three men have been arrested in connecting to the murder, according to police.
Kabagambe moved to Brazil in 2011 after fleeing violence and conflict in Congo, his mother Ivana Lay told local media.
Lay said that he was beaten to death on January 24 after demanding back pay for two days from work at the kiosk, where he had served drinks.
Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary of Public Security Brenno Carnevale described the murder as “cowardly,” in a tweet and that he sympathized with the family’s pain.
Carnevale added that he has ordered the “immediate ban on the operation of the establishment that is related to the dynamics of the crime.”
He added that he hopes that “such and unacceptable brutality will be investigated by the police authorities and culminate in the criminals being held accountable.”
Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes said Kabagambe’s murder was “unacceptable and outrageous” and that those responsible will be punished.
Lay, Kabagambe’s mother, is pleading for justice.
“They (the murderers) broke my son’s back, they broke his neck. I fled Congo so we wouldn´t get killed. However, they killed my son here as they kill in my country. They killed my son with punches, kicks. They killed him like a beast,” Lay told Brazilian Newspaper Extra.
Kabagambe and his family arrived in Rio de Janeiro as refugees in 2011 after fleeing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some of his relatives had been killed in the conflict, Lay said.
Kabagambe’s murder has also ignited a social media campaign where many Brazilians – including local celebrities – are calling for justice. The country’s Congolese community has also called for protests at the Tropicália kiosk where Kabagambe was killed.
Racial discrimination remains rife in many parts of Brazil, with Afro-Brazilians often targeted in racially motivated attacks. Tainá de Paula, a city councilor for Rio de Janeiro linked Kabagambe’s killing to xenophobia, saying in a tweet: “RJ (Rio de Janeiro) is the 2nd city that receives the most immigrants in Brazil. It was Xenophobia! It was racism! Justice for Moses!”
Kabagambe is the fifth person from the DRC to be murdered in Brazil since 2019, the DRC’s embassy in Brasilia told CNN. Three of those killings took place in Rio, one in São Paulo and one in Brasilia, it said.