No one has been in Goma's Munzenze prison terribly long because when rebels took over the city in November its one thousand inmates all escaped. The rebels arrived and started shooting, the guards ran away. Today, people dressed in bright colours sit with their backs against the prison's tall grey wall holding bundles of deliveries for inmates. Inside, it's a warren of windowless inter-connected rooms, wire-mesh enclosures and dormitories. There's laundry flapping all over the place, people flogging snacks and basic household wares, groups of war veterans sitting in sedate groups, agitated young men picking fights. My guide, a young inmate who enjoys a prefect-like status (presumably due to his good behaviour) courteously gestures for a guard to open the gate for me to enter one of the pens. I notice as he does so there's a man-sized hole in the wire fence left of the gate, which provides an efficient alternative entry point, but -- keeping up appearances -- we use the gate. Standing in the middle of the pen is Alphonse. He's wearing normal clothes - a t-shirt, black slacks - but he has a full-skirted wedding dress over the top. Alphonso, or The Colonel, as he introduces himself, is mad. He speaks excellent English with a proper accent but isn't sure where he learned it. He was a police colonel, he says. Today, he is spear-heading a political movement. This little man with his shoulders crunched up because the bodice of his wedding dress is a bit too tight drags me across the chaotic enclosure to show me a black bomber jacket. He has written on the back in white paint, "M29".
To many people M23 is a motorway but to anyone with a passing interest in Eastern Congo it's the latest headlining rebel group. M29 is Alphonso's version, but he seems unaware of the parody. "We are the movement for defending the rights of minorities", Alphonso says, holding up the bomber jacket to display the logo proudly.
This elderly man is the tragic embodiment of 20 years of intermittent conflict in Eastern Congo. 50% of adults here meet criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a painstaking population-based 2010 survey of the east. That's more than 3 million adults. The same study found that over a million adults had attempted suicide in the last year.
Young men and women whose minds fail to cope with the violence and continual displacement - "les fous" - get bound up like turkeys and kept in a dark room. They arrive at the mental health clinic with their wrists bleeding from the metal fetters they've lived with for months, sometimes years. They are the lucky ones. Others are left behind in villages when rebels arrive, only for the rebels to shoot them dead, or worse.
Alphonso's only crime is that he's mad, the tour guide says. But he has no family and lives in a place with almost no capacity to deal with mental illness so he's in prison. He sleeps alongside three other men on a lower bunk-bed. The room is just fifteen paces long but sleeps over a hundred men - fourteen bunks, eight to a bed. Some sleep in shifts. The prison was designed for 150 in total but houses 536 at the moment.
Four men are "properly mad" in Goma prison, according to inmates. Aside from over-crowding their main complaint is that everyone is lumped in together, the mentally ill, national army veterans, M23 rebels, Mai Mai militiamen, petty criminals, and some who have never even seen a charge sheet. They eat the same thing, rice and beans, every day. "On va mourir" [we're going to die], one man says.