Vital Ndaboba Badheka
charcoal on paper
17" x 14"
$375 (framed or unframed)

(Purchasing Information)

Democratic Republic of the Congo

It was an ordinary evening for Vital Ndaboba Badheka, a student leader at the National Institute of Education in Kinshasa. There was no way to know that by night's end, his intervention on behalf of a student whose bag had been stolen by a soldier would momentarily turn him into an enemy of the state.

At approximately 9:30 pm Badheka and eleven other students were seized by soldiers, loaded into a truck at gunpoint, beaten and told they would be shot the next day. Taken to the Kokolo military barracks, the students were stripped of their clothing and personal possessions, then repeatedly whipped and threatened with execution throughout the course of the night. Forced to perform tasks such as standing on their hands and doing push-ups, any faltering was met with more blows to their naked bodies.

In the morning, the students were made to clean up human excrement with their bare hands, as their open wounds remained untreated. At 10:00 am, they were put on a truck and informed of their imminent execution. Instead, the truck drove straight to campus, where all twelve students were released without charge or explanation. Though the local government promised an investigation into this incident, no known action has ever been taken against those responsible.

The case of Vital Ndaboba Badheka is but one in a legacy of arbitrary arrests and torture by army, security and police forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where routine mistreatment of detainees occurs with the knowledge that few, if any, torturers are ever brought to justice.

All images on this site are copyright © 2008 by Tom Block Arts. Please contact the artist for use of these images.