Kyungu Mutanga, also known as Gideon, was the head of a vigilante militia, made up of combatants from the Mai-Mai resistance movement which was rife in the province of Katanga in south-eastern DRC. Kyungu Mutanga has sponsored and participated in several crimes committed against civilians in the towns of Mitwaba, Pweto and Manono between 2003 and 2006.
The Mai Mai had initially been asked to assist Kabila to take power in 1996 and 1997. They were subsequently armed by the Congolese authorities, under the government of Laurent Kabila, and assisted the government authorities to combat the invasion of foreign and local armed forces who were occupying the eastern DRC supported by Rwanda.
The Mai Mai presented themselves as a force of popular resistance against foreign armies occupying the territory of the DRC. They were excluded after the cease-fire in Lusaka in 1999 but remained active.
In November 2005, the government undertook to disarm the local and foreign armed groups active in the country. The armed forces of the DRC launched a military operation to suppress the rebellion led by the Mai Mai in Katanga. During this operation, the DRC army arrested hundreds of civilians suspected of having links with the Mai Mai rebels and executed and tortured to death dozens of them. It has also been alleged that the DRC armed forces raped women suspected of supporting the Mai Mai.
The Mai Mai refused disarmament and were separated from the central government. Kyungu Mutanga and other Mai Mai leaders felt that they were not properly rewarded for their commitment to the government forces. The Mai Mai therefore turned against the central government and the local communities. Tracked since November 2005 by government armed forces and suspected of having committed crimes against the civilian population, the Mai Mai contributed to the insecurity for the civilian population and have engaged in violent confrontations with government forces.
On 12 May 2006, following campaigns by the government forces and the United Nations, Kyungu Mutanga and some Mai Mai warriors surrendered to peacekeepers of the United Nations mission in Congo (MONUC) who were stationed in Mitwaba about 300km north of Lubumbashi in Katanga province. Kyungu Mutanga was accompanied by a group of 150 Mai Mai fighters which, according to data provided by the United Nations, included 76 child soldiers. Kyungu Mutanga expressed a desire to be part of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. He offered to assist the MONUC officials by calling on his militiamen to surrender.
On 16 May 2006, MONUC handed Kyungu Mutanga over to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Superior Military Auditor Lubumbashi then became seized of the matter. Kyungu Mutanga was detained under the authority of the military court but was not immediately charged.
According to a special report issued by MONUC on 6 July 2006, the charges against Kyungu Mutanga and his men mainly concerned allegations of summary executions of civilians, rape, looting and abuse of civilians between 2003 and 2006 in central Katanga. The Mai Mai have notably tortured civilian victims in public places, before engaging in acts of cannibalism as part of ceremonies of which the purpose was to terrorize the population. Among the charges against Kyungu Mutanga are the murder of the wife of the Director of the Upemba National Park, the recruitment of children to serve in the Mai Mai armed forces, acts of cannibalism, the use of firearms and the creation of an insurgent movement. MONUC have highlighted that the Mai Mai militia have taken no steps to investigate human rights violations committed by their supporters.
Mutanga has been held by the military authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 16 May 2006.