My name is Adrienne Kambana. I am the widow of Jimmy Mubenga


Last Tuesday, a woman appeared before judge and jury, and she sobbed: “My name is Adrienne Kambana. I am the widow of Jimmy Mubenga and the mother of our five children. Jimmy Mubenga was a good father… [and] a good husband… He had never been in trouble with the police before. He had never done anything wrong. When he was arrested he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. An argument started and Jimmy got caught up in it. Jimmy was convicted of an offence of causing actual bodily harm and he was sent to prison in March 2006. Although I was not a witness to what happened, I was present at the trial where he was found guilty. He told me, `I was innocent’ and I believed him. This was the first time he had ever been away from the children. By April 2007 he had served his sentence but he was detained under immigration powers. He remained detained until June 2008 when he was granted bail. It was during this time that Blessing was conceived. Jimmy instructed a solicitor and tried to challenge the deportation because he wanted to stay with his family… I was asked by the police to tell them about the phone calls I had with Jimmy on 12 October 2010… He said, “I’ll call you back” and he did not call me back. That was the end of the story.”

That was the end of the story.

The so-called liberal democracies festoon themselves with inquests as if these carnivals of `the rule of law’ equal justice. They don’t.

The current manifestation is “the Jimmy Mubenga inquest,’ taking place now in London. On October 12, 2010, Jimmy Mubenga boarded a plane for Angola, in the custody of G4S guards. Within 50 minutes, Jimmy Mubenga was dead. During those 50 minutes, Mubenga repeatedly asked for help and received none. He begged, he screamed, he called out, “They’re going to kill me.” And they did.

And now we `discover’ that the G4S security guards had racist jokes on their phones. While that is `unfortunate’, mobile phones did not kill Jimmy Mubenga, nor did a few racist guards, be they privately employed or working for the State. Jimmy Mubenga was killed by State policy. He was killed by the very entity that is now `conducting an inquest’ in full view.

While the possibility of arriving at something like the truth of the event of Jimmy Mubenga’s death is important and worthwhile, it does not constitute justice. Jimmy Mubenga is dead. The children can’t stop crying, the widow can’t stop crying. If there were justice, Jimmy Mubenga would be alive.

Only a fundamental structural change – one that never again criminalizes, cages, and executes `the strangers among us’ – would begin to arrive at justice. Jimmy Mubenga’s death, like that of Ashley Smith in Canada and so many others around the so-called `free world’, are part of State policy, not the errant acts of individuals.

Adrienne Kambana concluded her remarks, sobbing: “Jimmy has gone forever. We need justice. Justice will help Jimmy rest in peace. This will prevent the situation from happening again. Justice will give the other passengers on the plane peace of mind about what happened. Justice will protect people in the future because I don’t want anyone to be in my shoes. Justice will help my children not to feel angry about what happened to their father. Justice will help me to live a long and healthy life so that I can take care of our children. I need justice, especially for my daughter who did not get the chance to know her father. We will never forget Jimmy.”

The inquest is expected to continue for eight weeks.


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About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.