Grandpa Kimoto: "We are facing a real pedophile network"

Papy Kimoto, the former Congolese international, now coach of US Maniema, wanted to testify in the investigation into pedocrime, published by Romain Molina on November 3 and 11 on the site sportnewsafrica.com, and which seems be a real scourge in the DR Congo. He explains why he wanted to help break the silence.


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Is Romain Molina’s article making a lot of noise in DR Congo?
Yes. It became a topic of discussion. And it’s not over, since Romain Molina published a second one a few days later. Things have to come out. People call me to tell me that I was right to take part in this investigation, that they had to talk. Others, less numerous, reproach me for it, telling me that I should not have given the names of coaches guilty of assaults on minors or older players.

“My wife, who lives in Kinshasa with our children, received several anonymous and threatening phone calls. I preferred to shelter them and make them leave the capital for security reasons. »

Have you received any threats?
We can say it, but it doesn’t matter. I assume without problem. And where I am, I am quiet. What really bothers me is that my wife, who lives in Kinshasa with our children, received several anonymous and threatening phone calls. I preferred to shelter them and make them leave the capital for security reasons. All this shows how disturbing this investigation is. Molina did a very good job, he provided evidence. We have several audio recordings, Facebook messages, which clearly show that acts of pedophilia have been committed on young players, minors. It must be said: we are faced with a real network.

When did you realize the gravity of the situation?
I have spent most of my career in Belgium, Cyprus and Israel. I came back to DR Congo to coach, in 2014, and gradually I understood that things were happening. I remember one day when a coach had abused a kid… It was a little over two years ago, when I was coaching the Renaissance team. He was a young player from a football academy. There was a lot of commotion, the police were there, the kid had collapsed. It marked me. Then, as I am part of the Coaches’ Association, I had, during a meeting with leaders of the federation, talked about these abuses. But neither the president (Donatien Tschimanga) nor the vice-president (Théo Binamung) reacted, when I asked them, with others, to do something to stop it. We had to protect these children, these players! It couldn’t last.

Do you ever think that you could have alerted the press earlier?
In effect. I’ve probably been silent for too long. I should have spoken before. But in DR Congo, I do not have the impression that the press is really interested in the problem. It’s still crazy that it’s a French journalist, who lives 8000 kilometers away, who manages to collect testimonies, evidence, who comes up with such a case…

“There are coaches who are very clear: if the players do not accept a sacrifice, that is to say a sexual relationship, they cannot hope to play or sign a contract. »

As it is written in the article, one has the impression that sexual blackmail, in Congolese football – as in other countries, since Romain Molina had published a similar investigation on Gabon – is almost part of the habits. .
Yes, and that is what is terrible. Me, I was born in the DRC, I started playing there before going to Europe, and I’ve never been confronted with that. But today, as you say, it has become a widespread thing. There are coaches who are very clear: if the players do not accept a sacrifice, that is to say a sexual relationship, they cannot hope to play or sign a contract. Have you heard some messages sent by one of these coaches to a player?

Yes…
And there are coaches who will tell kids that it’s normal, that if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo have such a great career, it’s because they accepted a sacrifice… Do you realize? In addition, these coaches mainly target players who come from very disadvantaged backgrounds, for whom football represents a way out. And often these kids don’t want to talk because they’re scared. They are disgusted with football, they no longer want to play it.

Obviously, some trainers quoted in the article are known to be true sexual predators, which has never prevented them from exercising… There is the case of Guy-Roger Limolo, who was one day caught trying to abuse a player in the toilets of the Tata Raphaël stadium in Kinshasa…
And this did not prevent him from continuing his career without problems in professional clubs. That’s what’s incredible. They get caught, are kicked out of one province, go to another and start again somewhere else. Today, information travels fast. The presidents of the clubs cannot not be aware. We also have the case of coaches who serve prison terms for sexual assault and who, once released, open a bogus academy in a neighborhood and start over. This is no longer possible, we must eradicate this from Congolese football.

Six coaches cited in the first part of this investigation have been suspended as a precaution by the federation (Guy-Roger Limolo, Tifo Miezi, Alain Kandudi, Bertin Makuzueto, Cédric Dongo Epapa and Jonathan Buka). The latter decided to open an investigation, while the Congolese State, through the Minister of Sports, requested that the Ministry of Justice seize the Prosecutor…
I hope all of this will help bring down these networks. That the commission which will carry out the investigation for the federation will be totally independent. The culprits must be arrested and severely punished. May they be put out of harm’s way and may they never train again. I am ready to collaborate with those who want to put an end to this…

Interview by Alexis Billebault

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