West Region: Gendarme shoots dead 11-year-old at Santchou checkpoint

Jul 4, 2024

By Hope Nda

A gendarme officer tragically shot dead an 11-year-old boy this Thursday afternoon at the Santchou tollgate in the West Region of Cameroon.

The incident, which occurred while the gendarme was attempting to stop a private vehicle, has sparked outrage among the local population.

Reports say the gendarme had asked the driver of a vehicle for the papers of a bicycle that was on board.

When the driver attempted to leave by starting the vehicle, the gendarme fired a shot.

The bullet went through the windscreen and struck the child in the head, killing him instantly.

This happened at the Santchou tollgate, a typically quiet checkpoint in the West Region.

The Santchou community has been left in shock and anger, with many gathering at the hospital where the child’s body was taken. Equinoxe Television reported that the young boy’s mother, who had a stroke upon receiving the news, also died at the hospital.

Details surrounding the incident remain limited, but local authorities are expected to launch an investigation into the circumstances that led to the fatal shooting.

The population of Santchou, in anger, set ablaze the tollgate and barricaded the road which links the Region to the Litoral. They also stormed the Gendarmerie post, which was deserted, demanding justice.

The incident has reignited concerns about the use of force by law enforcement officers in Cameroon.

It comes three years after a similar incident in Buea, Southwest Region, where a gendarme officer shot and killed five-year-old Carolaise Enondialle, a pupil who was on her way to school, while attempting to stop a vehicle.

The gendarme officer had reportedly demanded a bribe of FCFA 500 but the car owner hesitated before he opened fire, killing Carolaise.

Although the mob lynched and killed the gendarme, the incident ignited mass protests in Buea, a city that was relatively calm amid raging armed conflict in the South West Region.

Police and military brutality against civilians is not a novelty in Cameroon as law enforcement officers have faced several accusations of brutalizing, maltreating and exploiting civilians and road users.

The government has also been criticized for overlooking excesses of the police and gendarmes, and observers say this has empowered some of these elements to overstep their bounds.