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Mauritian Riot after murder of Berger Agathe

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Riots broke out on Monday February 22, 1999 following the death of a musician Berger Agathe who was protesting the death in police custody of the African community's favourite singer, Kaya.

Kaya was arrested after smoking marijuana at a rally to promote the legalisation of the drug.

An inquest found that Kaya had been grabbed by his dreadlocks and his head smashed against a wall.

Berger - a well-known local guitarist - was at the front of an angry and upset crowd, demonstrating the death of Kaya. Berger was shot dead by a police who was a Hindu-Mauritian.

Supporters of the musicians accused the police of brutality against the island's Black community.

In the slum African neighbourhood where the two musicians lived - Roche Bois - Blacks poured out into the tin-shack alleyways and faced the Hindu-dominated police.

Mauritius had a race riot.

As rioting rampaged through the capital Port Louis for the third day, President Cassam Uteem promised that there would be a judicial inquiry into the death of the singer.

At least four died in clashes with police, which were described as the worst the island has seen for 30 years.

Thirty police officers were reported to have been injured, as rioters hurled firebombs at police stations.

Demonstrators blocked main roads and witnesses described the burning of dozens of cars.

Many of the protestors who went on the rampage were young Blacks - a community descended from African slaves that makes up about 30% of the population in Mauritius. They came from the poorer parts of the capital and other towns and are underprivileged.

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