1, February 2024
Cameroonian socialite Hervé Bopda has been arrested after abuse allegations against him prompted national outrage.
Earlier this month, Mr Bopda and his acquaintances were accused by a popular activist of committing a number of crimes against roughly 200 victims.
Dozens of social media users have subsequently posted fresh allegations of sexual and physical abuse, many using the hashtag #stopbopda.
Mr Bopda, known for his jet-setting lifestyle, has denied all wrongdoing.
On Wednesday, after Mr Bopda was arrested, his lawyer said the accusations were “scandalous”.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Ojong Ashu acknowledged that the recent slew of abuse allegations prompted his client’s arrest, but insisted that Mr Bopda had been arrested for his own safety.
On 19 January, Cameroonian activist and internet personality N’zui Manto began releasing what he said were “testimonies” from men and women who alleged they had been assaulted by Mr Bopda and his acquaintances.
These included allegations of rape, kidnapping, harassment and physical assault.
The ensuing allegations from social media users, mostly women, sparked calls for Mr Bopda to be investigated by police.
By Monday, the hashtag #stopbopda had become the number one trending topic among Cameroonian users on X, formerly Twitter.
Public figures have also voiced concern. Marie-Thérèse Abena Ondoa, Cameroon’s minister for women’s empowerment, called the accusations “unspeakably serious” in a statement last Friday.
Ms Ondoa said she encouraged “all victims to break the silence in order to break the chain of violence and to provide the judicial authorities with the information they need to carry out proceedings aimed at establishing the facts and, where appropriate, convicting the perpetrators of these appalling crimes”.
She also commended a group of Cameroonian human rights lawyers who had lodged a police complaint against Mr Bopda.
Alongside the lawyers and Ms Ondoa, celebrities from Cameroon and the wider African continent have called for action.
Popular Nigerian Afrobeats musician Ayra Starr posted “#StopBopda!!!” on X last Thursday.
Mr Bopda is widely known within Cameroon as a socialite, businessman and the son of late construction magnate Emmanuel Bopda.