SEVEN BROTHERS KILLED IN BUTA, (ZAIRE)

SEVEN BROTHERS KILLED IN BUTA, (ZAIRE)

Br. Léonard de Port-Maurice spent the greater part of his life in Africa: in Gabon, in Ethiopia and the Congo.

Br. Laurent-Joseph was Provincial of Belgium from 1947 to 1965 and left for the Congo at 54 years old.

Br. Stanislas-Joseph lived in Zaire for 32 years, was head of the schools at Ango and Baye and was District Superior for some time.

Br. Bernard-Joseph spent 15 years in Zaire where he wrote several text books (French, physical education and geography).

Br. Guido-Maria was head of the technical school at Baye from 1956 to 1964.

Br. Gilbert-Francois taught in Bondo and spent only seven years in the Congo on two occasions.

Br. Hubert de Montfort arrived in the Congo in 1963.

The night of Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 May 1965 passed without incident for the 50 hostages in the Buta prisons. Their fate depended on Colonel Makondo. They knew him to be kindly disposed but also impulsive and unpredictable. Now, not only did he refuse to surrender to the liberation forces, but on the Sunday morning he ordered “to kill all the male missionaries”. The wait seemed long to all, especially to the men who were wondering whether the order would be carried out.

At 5 p.m. sixty or so Simbas, most of them young men, arrived carrying ropes and clubs and ordered the 31 priests and Brothers out. They undressed them, tied their arms behind their backs and took them to the side of the Rubi river 400 metres away. Insults were hurled at them and blows rained on them but not a cry escaped their lips. Later on some Congolese nuns contacted the Simbas who said that those people “could not understand how men could face death so courageously and calmy and in some cases with a smile on their lips.”

The Simbas ordered the men to go singly down to the riverbank, stabbed them in the right side with a knife, hit them on the neck with a machete and threw them into the water. Other rebels sailing a boat dispatched those still alive with a rifle shot. No body was recovered, except, a week later, that of Br. Laurent who had been summarily buried on the riverbank. Presumably, some Simbas to whom he had given lessons, tried to rescue him but others noticed this and killed him. His body was later taken from Buta to Bondo. In his last letter to his Brother Paul he had written on 1 April: “We are being trained in an excellent school: the school of suffering, detachment, abandonment, faith, confidence, blind obedience, prayer. How many things man can easily do without if he throws himself back on God who makes up for all our failings. God has chosen us that the Brothers of Saint Gabriel may contribute their share of suffering for the redemption of souls.”

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