They were something 8,000 spectators gathered in a square in Mamoudzou, Mayotte on Saturday evening, to attend a concert by rapper Niska.
Adored by a large part of the youth of the island, where almost half of the population is underage, he was eagerly awaited. But the show will be cut short. In the middle of the concert, a fight broke out in the audience and caused crowd movements which resulted in a dozen minor injuries. Some spectators were targeted by stones thrown by groups who came to fight.
Eight arrests in the evening
“Used to things degenerating very quickly, people were very scared and it created a huge crowd movement, it spread like a wave, from the middle outwards, from all sides,” said explained Laurent Simonin, the territorial director of the national police in Mayotte. A rain of tear gas canisters fell on the crowd who dispersed to flee, take shelter or, for some, erect roadblocks and set them on fire.
A dozen cars were also vandalized and street furniture went up in smoke. At least 10 roadblocks were erected, held by groups of 20 to 40 people who threw stones and concrete irons at the police. After nearly two hours of clashes, two people were arrested.
Six other people were arrested in the early evening near the concert, including four armed with knives and brass knuckles, and one is implicated in an assassination attempt, according to Laurent Simonin. Three young people were also found in possession of Molotov cocktails.
Recurring violence on the archipelago
Mayotte, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, is regularly shaken by outbreaks of violence between rival gangs or against the police, when they intervene to put an end to it. In February, exasperated residents had blocked access to their neighborhood for several days and tried to block traffic routes.
In 2021, the Mamoudzou public prosecutor’s office recorded a 25% increase in referrals for criminal acts in Mayotte and 21% for misdemeanors.