An Ottawa man is behind bars in the Congo because of his close ties with that country’s opposition leader, according to his family, who is fearing for his life.
Fabien Kalala Shambuyi, 24, was supposed to return home for Christmas and got arrested at the Kinshasa airport and thrown in jail, said his brother, Eric Kunda A. Tombe.
“We were panicking. It’s really hard, especially for my parents and my sisters and I,” said Tombe, 26.
“There’s no peace down there. There’s no democracy. There’s no law.”
Shambuyi was traveling as a security guard for Etienne Tshisekedi, who ran against recently re-elected Congolese president Joseph Kabila.
Family friend Henriette Yakibonge says Shambuyi was cuffed for insulting the president, then tossed in jail.
He’s currently at Makala Prison.
“There’s no toilet there, there’s nothing. You won’t believe how terrible and disgusting it is,” said Yakibonge.
The family didn’t celebrate Christmas “because everybody’s spirit is down,” and they’re desperate for his return, said Tombe, who is “disappointed” in the efforts of Canadian foreign affairs.
A spokesman for Minister of State of Foerign Affairs Diane Ablonczy says the government is acting.
“Canadian officials in Kinshasa are providing consular assistance to a Canadian who was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo and our officials in Ottawa are in contact with his family,” said John Babcock.
Shambuyi lives with a sister in Nepean and works as a security guard.
The young football player, a criminology student, is listed as a defensive end on the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 2010 roster and also played for the Junior Riders.
In December alone, members of Ottawa’s Congolese community staged three protests at the Democratic Republic of the Congo embassy in Sandy Hill, calling for an end to genocide in that country.
Shambuyi’s family is praying he will be safe.
“We’re Christians. We’ve got a strong belief,” said Tombe.