By Gael Masengi
On Thursday –what’s supposed to be a happy Valentine Day, –the19 Congolese ‘suspects’ arrested in South Africa nearly 2 weeks ago for allegedcoup plot against the government of Kinshasa appeared at the Magistrate courtagain.
|Congolese protesters outside the magistrate court|
Under a blazing 20+ degree centigrade Pretoria sun, came hundreds of men and women in support of their fellow community members wrongly accused of would-be "putschists" in their second court appearance. However things didn’t start smoothly at first when security guards tried to block dozens of angry and noisy supporters who filed the corridor, from entering the court room. A brief scuffle with the guards forced the South African Police’s Tactical Response Team (TRT) to intervene and forcefully drove out of the court “rebels’” strong crowd of sympathisers.
“Let me inside!,” shouted a pregnant woman to the guards “my husband is among the arrested, I want to see him”, she then was taken inside after she was indeed confirmed to be a spouse of one of the men arrested as family members only were allowed.
Out on the main passage drama continued when a colossal man was forcefully removed from chamber 16 –where proceeding was taking place, “Why am I being pushed?!,” exclaimed a man wearing a Tshisekedi branded fabric shirt.
“In a political sense, this trial is a conspiracy, cabal and assassination against the people of DRC.” said another protester to the media “We are united in the goal of overthrowing Hypolite Kanambe alias Joseph Kabila the usurper. Our final goal is to establish Dr. Etienne Tshisekedi Wa Mulumba the elected President of the DRC gain power through revolution.”
Later, a court official spoke to Gael-On-Media on condition of anonymity, he said, the man was being pulled away for an “obvious reason”, and the state which accuses the men of being involved in rebellion activities might contradict itself if the alleged suspects are to be associated with the image of a Congolese populist political leader, such as Etienne Tshisekedi. The 300,000+ Congolese exile community in South Africa are undeniably strong supporters of the charismatic eternal opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who rejected the results of an internationally criticised 2011 presidential election and subsequently ‘sworn-in’ as the country’s new president. They do believe that South African government which they again accuse of inheriting imperialist ‘foreign policy on the Congo’ act in command of mineral resource- hungry westerns willing to keep Joseph Kabila in power at any cost for their interests. Sentiments echoed by many Great Lake region analysts, who in their turn also consider the Zuma’s administration as not just a strong ally of the controversial Congolese government but a rather 'unconventional' mutual benefits.
Outside the court, a massive crowd of demonstrators chanted anti-Kabila songs and displayed placards which contained antagonistic message to the South African government and President Jacob Zuma himself. Under a cheerful crowd the suspects were being driven back to Pretoria Central prison where they have been detained –without trial –for 10 days now.
|Protesters outside the Congolese embassy|
Unexpectedly the prosecuting authority –which failed again to provide evidence against the suspects –is either confused or incompetent, asked for two more weeks instead of one week as expected. Shaun Abrahams, the state prosecutor asked the regional magistrate Maryke de la Rey for final postponement until 27 February for the state to “prepare” its case in the bail application.
A strong presence of police officers were caught off-guard when the group of approximately hundred of anti-Kabila demonstrators marched in the middle of busy Francis Baard Street toward the Congolese embassy before being forced off the side-walk. A fight broke in front of embassy between protesters and a man who seemed not to politically agree with the crowd, eventually the police dispersed the demonstrators as it was considered an illegal rally, one man was arrested and taken to Sunny side police station.