Monday, 23 January 2012

South Africa is determined to silence Anti-Kabila activists!

Written by Gael Masengi
In the afternoon of Thursday the 19th, Yeoville a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa became a scene extreme beating and crackdown on Congolese of opposition factions.
Around 4pm dozens of police vans, SUVs, mini-buses and trucks barged nearby Time Square, a famous bar in the neighbourhood, without warning or explanation, the notorious South African men on uniforms start slapping and kicking everyone who’s identified as a Congolese national.
Yeoville is a vibrant pan-African area, a home of many immigrants from the continent and thousands of Congolese alike. Since the November’s elections, Congolese pro-democracy mostly UDPS (Etienne Tshisekedi’s party) members have been gathering in a community park to discuss and strategize their “next move” of contesting against the supposedly re-election of Joseph Kabila, an election marred by serious irregularities revealed by the Carter Centre, strongly rejected by the opposition and the Congolese Catholic Church. Dispersed many times but always present at their usual place.
The raid isn’t the first but the worst, men and women was forcedly taken out of their homes, shops, hair salons, internet cafĂ© and bars beaten up and arrested. For three hours the place was transformed to a “No-Go-Zone” for Congolese expats and refugees, apparently the operation was led by a man who’s identified as “Zombie” Fabrice , an imposing man wearing Joseph Kabila branded t-shirt.
A 24 years old male, who asked not to be named, told me: “I was inside Supa Bet [sports betting shop] suddenly Zombie came in accompanied by the police, he was pointing at people if he pointed at you, and they beat you and proceeds to an arrest. Two of my friends were arrested.”  He said.
Many people were reportedly injured and three had broken legs.
“Two people was afraid to be beaten up, they jumped off from a 3 meters high balcony, eventually got broken legs.” He added.
A Special task force arrested the suspects after a series of clashes between expatriate supporters of Congolese president Joseph Kabila and opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, police spokesman Dennis Adriao.
Comments dismissed by an activist who AFP quoted saying the arrests were politically motivated.
“The government of the DRC wants to silence Congolese that were campaigning for democracy in the DRC here in South Africa,” said Jean-Pierre Lukamba, the deputy chairman of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF).
Over 200 of the DRC community members were arrested on ludicrous, trumped up charges of “public violence” and held at the Hillbrow Police station. Many of those sought out and arrested are community and political activists opposed to the Kabila regime in their home country. Last year these activists led a protest in front of the ANC’s Luthuli House against the outcome of recent elections in the country and the ANC and the South African government’s political and financial support for the Kabila regime. Several activists managed to escape arrest and since gone to ground, while the South African Police Service (SAPS) actively ‘seeks’ them out for arrest.
After the mass arrests on Thursday, the SAPS publicly stated that their ‘operation’ was against “illegal immigrants”. The ‘operation’ was clearly a politically motivated targeting of anti-Kabila DRC activists living in South Africa. It has become clear that the ANC and the government it runs are intent on harassing and intimidating anti-Kabila DRC activists in South Africa.
Since then many have been released and 26 were supposed to appear in Johannesburg High court on Monday 23 January charged with 'public violence'. However the session was postponed on January 31 2011, raging thousands of supporters who came in court since early that morning. The crowd accompanied by photojournalists were escorted by police, people cheered as they entered Yeoville with chants and slogan in favour of Etienne Tshisekedi.
                                                                               Additional text: Amadla! News. 

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