44. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

DEATH OF PATRICE LUMUMBA

Though no single report is so definitive or complete that it can be accepted as an official version of Lumumba’s death,2 there is sufficient information on hand that recurs through the welter of reporting on the subject to permit advancing the following: [Page 94]

a.
Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo, Minister of Sports and Youth in the Lumumba cabinet and Joseph Okito, former acting president of the Congolese Senate, were flown from Moanda to Elisabethville on January 17. Immediately prior to the flight they were moved by truck and small aircraft from their military prison quarters in Thysville to Moanda—a seaside resort town which does not have a UN garrison. From the delay in reception in Elisabethville it is apparent that Katanga authorities were not expecting this cargo at that particular time, though there were inconclusive conversations on the subject between Leopold- ville and Elisabethville authorities in early January when fears developed that the Léopoldville authorities could no longer trust the Thysville garrison.
b.
All three prisoners died shortly after their arrival in Katanga. There are conflicting reports about how death was met and when, but the report of one of our most reliable Elisabethville sources that the trio were executed on January 17 within hours after arrival stands as the most credible. Confirmation is to be found in a report from a long-time Léopoldville asset directly quoting Fernand Kazadi, Commission General for National Defense, who claims to have been present at the execution. A further report tending to confirm the execution came to one of our staff agents in Léopoldville from Albert Kalonji’s representatives in Brazzaville on February 9. Above references could be expanded, and though further reporting differs considerably in details, it all points toward execution of the trio within hours of arrival in Elisabethville. It is interesting to note that news of the execution was very tightly held and rumors did not get into wide circulation until early February. Of further note is the fact that a variety of Belgian liaison sources in the Congo who could be expected to have pertinent information never provided any relevant information on the fate of Lumumba.
c.
The announcement of the Katanga Government on February 10 regarding the escape of Lumumba and subsequent death at the hands of tribal enemies never gained general acceptance in Congolese circles. Katanga President Tshombe’s unwillingness to cooperate with the UN investigative team and paucity of evidence made available to the press by the Katanga Interior Minister made such a poor case for the escape story that their actions had a reverse effect and served to convince interested parties the escape story was a thinly veiled fraud to cover up a political murder.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Congressional Affairs, Review Staff Files. Secret. The memorandum, unsigned and undated, is filed with a March 7 covering note to Dulles, which reads as follows: “You were asking that the Division get together in a memorandum our best estimate of the actual facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Patrice Lumumba. This memorandum is attached and I am not sure whether you intended to send it to the President or not. FMC” The note was initialed by Dulles, but the document bears no indication that it was sent to the President. It is filed with a routing slip of June 19, 1975, which states that it was located in an AF/DDP (Africa Division of the Directorate of Plans) file.
  2. See Document 6.