Sunday, 24 March 2013

DRC alleged Coup plot: Bail denied!

By Gael Masengi        

20 Congolese alleged coup-plotters arrested back in early February of this year will remain in South African jail said a judge this past Friday afternoon at Pretoria’s Magistrate Court.

accused suspects
Emotions ran high inside the court room as Magistrate Solomon Mkubela delivered his ruling against the defendants, he argued that the counsel for the accused could not prove his clients are not a “flight risk” let alone they wouldn’t be a threat to the lives of Congolese political authorities, include Joseph Kabila, if granted bail. The magistrate again said, the suspects could easily leave South Africa with help from Congolese community, and also noted that none of the accused has a permanent residence in South Africa, something which he believed can make their escape from the country possible, therefore he ordered the “suspects” to remain in custody until the beginning of their trial on May 23rd.    

The men are accused of plotting to overthrow the controversial regime of Joseph Kabila and physically eliminate him and his aides, 19 suspects were arrested by a special division of the South African police in the early hours of February the 6th while en route to the northern province of Limpopo where the prosecutor alleged that a “training camp” was set-up by a team of undercover police officers who pretended to be retired members of S.A elite commando-turn mercenaries. Belonging to an unheard organization called the “Union of Nationalists for Renewal”, the men allegedly sent a “wish list” asking for machine guns, radio, grenades and even surface-to-air missiles and arranged for a training camp, prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told magistrate judge at previous court hearing. Accused to be the “ring leader”, an astonished Etienne Taratibu Kabila, eldest son of assassinated President Laurent D. Kabila eventually turned himself-in at Bellevue police station, Cape Town.

Saddened by the outcome of bail hearing, spouses of the “suspects” broke in tears as they were making their way out of the court with a remarkable dissatisfied crowd of supporters who are convinced that it’s a ‘clear political decision’ not a legal one. They unanimously accuse President Jacob Zuma –closest ally of Joseph Kabila – of “deeply” interfering on the judge’s decision, alleging that the Zuma administration will do anything to secure its interests in the DR. Congo by satisfying a class of Congolese political elites and overlooking the will of people, a thought many analysts of the Great Lake region seem to favor.  

This is a political decision, period!” said a fuming James Kamanda “We’ve seen Oscar Pistorious shot and killed his girlfriend and he got bail, why does it have to be different with the people who didn’t commit the act of killing neither attempt?”

The magistrate has however insisted that his decision was not finale; the accused can launch an appeal if they wish in a higher court while waiting for the trial date.  

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Alleged DRC coup plotter to spend another weekend behind bars

Source: South African Broadcasting Corp. (SABC)

Twenty alleged DRC coup plotters will spend another weekend behind bars. The men are accused of conspiracy to topple the current Congolese government and ultimately eliminate Joseph Kabila and senior members of his administration.

counsel for the accused, Johan Kotze adressing the media
The Pretoria Regional Court (Magistrate Court) heard that the men set up a training camp in the northern province of Limpopo. June or July was pencilled for the execution of their plot in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The police allegedly found training material and the coup plan on one of the accused’s computer. Joseph Kabila’s brother, Etienne Kabila is the allegedleader of the coup.

State Advocate (prosecutor)Shaun Abrahams told the court that it will not be against the grain of the constitution or constitutionally offensive to keep the accused in jail until the conclusion of their case. He says the men entered the country illegally and still have the means to leave illegally as they have the support of the Congolese community in South Africa.

Abrahams says the accused have the potential to endanger Joseph Kabila ant to disrupt peace in the DRC. He says they have no regard for South Africa’s interest because had they succeeded in their plan, they would have put this country in a bad light. He says the men acted in common purpose and the state has a strong case against them.

However, counsel for the accused, Johan Kotze, says it far-fetched to think that the 20 men without sophisticated ammunition could enter the DRC and endanger the lives of President Kabila and his cabinet. The case continues on Monday

                                                                     This article has been edited, the original version can be found here

Thursday, 7 March 2013

DR Congo coup plot: the audience stunned by revelations but not surprised

By Gael Masengi

The South African prosecutor on case of 20 Congolese arrested in February for “conspiracy” to topple the current government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amazed the fully packed court room as he continuously read-out documents retrieved from one of the accused laptop computer.
Inside the court room at Pretoria's Magistrate court
Opposing to bail application of the “suspects”, Shaun Abrahams pinpointed details before the magistrate of various reasons why ‘accused no 1 all the way to no 20’ shouldn’t be freed temporary. Cited among evidences, a computer confiscated from suspect no1 revealed that Joseph Kabila alongside other Congolese political personalities such as Kengo wa Dondo (senate), Evariste Boshab (MP), Andre Kimbuta (mayor of capital Kinshasa), naval and terrestrial army force generals was amongst the priority on the list of people to be arrested, if possible stand trial or even be physically eliminated once the group take control of the country as they are considered enemies of the people. Joseph Kabila whom again according to the seized documents described him as “Hippolyte Kanambe” a Rwandan imposter ‘who listen only to the language of weapons’, rigged the presidential elections of 2011 therefore he cannot be allowed to negotiate with or be granted immunity if captured. An audience of almost anti-Kabila activists reacted with an apparent ‘satisfying’ smile when it was stated that the group was planning to implement various valuable social projects once the Congo fall in their hands and thereon be governed by a true Congolese who has best interests of the people at heart, projects which includes –holding a free and fair election within the following months, the group disapprove of the M23 rebel as they are regarded as enemies being supported by both Rwandan and Ugandan government.  Abrahams told the magistrate that though the group had no cash to buy such a large arsenal of weapons but they sought to source fund from mineral resources stockpiled in the Mai-Mai held area in the eastern DR Congo, it was also revealed that the group already have around 2700 men deployed inside the country and have access to weapons shipped from Bulgaria and Romania sold by notorious war lord Viktor Bout during 1993-94 to Hutu rebels in exile in the DRC who were fighting the government of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

Accused to be the master mind of alleged coup plot against Joseph Kabila, the Congolese-born American citizen,James Kazongo is just like one of a million Congolese nationalists in the diaspora who despite their distance to the Congo, are still feel bound by a duty to save their homeland.
The audience listened carefully as the prosecutor spent the whole day inside Magistrate court’s room 6 reading the reasons for the state to keep in custody the 20 men, Abrahams argued that the men not only pose a threat to the lives of Congolese authorities but also to South Africa, however he failed to specify how much of a threat they are to South Africa. Magistrate Solomon Mkubela adjourned the session stating that he could have allowed the bail hearing to continue beyond the usual 4pm time but that will conflict with the arrangement made with the prison officials. Therefore further hearing is set to continue on March 15th.