By Moudjo Tobue

For several days, Cameroon has been rocked by a moral scandal of significant proportions. Nearly a hundred testimonies have emerged implicating Hervé Bopda, purportedly a businessman, in a series of heinous crimes including kidnapping, assault, and rape of over a hundred women and men in Yaoundé and Douala.

The cascade of allegations began with an anonymous report on the platform of whistleblower Nzui Manto. This initial account detailed an incident where a woman was allegedly slapped and threatened at gunpoint for rebuffing advances. Subsequently, a flood of more harrowing testimonies followed suit.

This guy slapped a woman in the street and pointed his gun in her face in the Bonapriso district of Douala simply because she had rejected his advances. He then fled when passers-by arrived and recognized him. His name is Hervé Bopda.

— N’ZUI MANTO (@MantoZui) January 19, 2024

Victims, comprising both men and women, recounted their ordeals involving Hervé Bopda. Some were ensnared, while others were coerced by acquaintances. Most claimed to have been forcibly abducted, raped, and subjected to sodomy by Bopda and his cohorts, who often accompanied him.

Furthermore, disturbing reports suggest that the alleged perpetrator is HIV-positive. Several testimonies indicate that victims, besides enduring assault, were also infected with the AIDS virus.

Based on the accounts shared on Nzui Manto’s platform, it appears that Hervé Bopda follows a distinct modus operandi: upon identifying a target, he either directly confronts them, resorting to physical violence or threats with a firearm, or dispatches his associates to approach them on his behalf. Victims are coerced into his vehicle, where they are subjected to sexual abuse, including sodomy. Additionally, victims are warned of dire consequences should they report the crimes, often intimidated into silence.

Male victims typically fall prey to enticing job offers or recommendations from acquaintances associated with Bopda. For instance, a sports coach was allegedly lured to discuss employment opportunities but was instead subjected to assault, while a mason, referred by a friend, met a similar fate.

Testimonies reveal that victims are coerced into engaging in sexual acts, primarily sodomy, under duress, with threats of violence or death if they resist or speak out. Despite the presence of uniformed accomplices, victims tend to refrain from seeking help, fearing reprisal.

Despite some victims attempting to file complaints, they claim to have encountered obstacles. For instance, one victim recounts being pressured by law enforcement to confront the accused, while another alleges indifference from authorities, leading her to flee the country.

Remarkably, despite over 70 published testimonies, there has been a notable absence of action from Cameroonian authorities. Rumors suggesting police pursuit or summonses to security divisions have circulated, but without tangible outcomes or official statements.

The resounding silence from authorities and the burgeoning number of testimonies have spurred Cameroonian netizens to demand justice through social media campaigns, petitions, and legal avenues. International solidarity has amplified the cause, yet official response remains elusive.

Testimonies hint at the existence of a pimping network facilitated by influencers, luring young individuals with promises of opportunities, only to exploit them in organized events. Alleged involvement of influential figures raises questions about potential complicity hindering investigations.

Sadly, the energy displayed by Cameroonian authorities regarding sexual assault cases, exemplified by past instances of impunity, casts doubt on the prospects for justice in the Bopda affair.

This article was translated from French by Daniel Okoth