Following almost 48 hours of official silence in the wake of the tragic Mamfe incident, also known as the Mamfe massacre, René Emmanuel Sadi, Minister of Communication (MINCOM Cameroon), issued a communiqué. He, however, stated that the death toll was 25, whereas many eyewitness accounts put it at a much higher figure.
The government’s communiqué unequivocally identified the abominable act’s perpetrators as the Manyu Unity Warriors, affiliated with the self-proclaimed Ambazonian Defence Forces. It reported 25 fatalities (19 men, 5 women, and 1 child), a figure that contradicts earlier reports from online videos and on-site witnesses. The situation remains under observation, with additional cases pending confirmation.
The government’s communiqué also revealed that first aid was dispatched through the administrative and judicial authorities to aid survivors. “Upon learning of the situation, administrative and judicial authorities, along with defence and security forces, were deployed to the scene to provide initial assistance to survivors and to restore order and security,” the communiqué explained.
This development has prompted questions regarding the whereabouts of these authorities and defence forces when the attack unfolded.
In addition to condemning the act through a written statement, the government conveyed the head of state’s condolences to the bereaved families and wished for a swift recovery for the survivors. Interestingly, the president is renowned for personally offering support to foreign nations in times of tragedy, raising questions about the written statement’s use when addressing a domestic crisis.
The Mamfe massacre is part of a series of killings in the ongoing seven-year anglophone crisis, with the government criticised for its silence while innocent lives are lost.
The release of this government communiqué coincides with Cameroonian citizens’ call for lasting peace and government efforts to end the crisis. Rather than offering condolences to the grieving families, officials seemed preoccupied with celebrating President Paul Biya’s 41-year tenure and touting his accomplishments.
For the past seven years, the government has been known to respond lightly to unfortunate incidents related to the anglophone crisis, either remaining silent or issuing communique statements that do little to prevent further bloodshed.
The question arises as to whether a communique is an appropriate response in such dire circumstances and whether government officials, including the head of state, should be on-site to personally confirm the situation.