‘They’ll kill us,’ say DRC citizens

File picture of DR Congo activists arrested.

File picture of DR Congo activists arrested.

Eight people were arrested after stones were thrown at the embassy.

Three leaders of the Congolese Community in South Africa are in hiding after a warrant of arrest had been issued to take them into custody.

The president of the Congolese Community, Bartelmy Kalenga, his general secretary, Kazadi Ilunga, and the spokesperson, Prince Mpinda, became suspicious after noticing four Congolese police officers at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where eight Congolese foreigners appeared briefly.

Speaking telephonically from his hiding place, Mpinda said: “I saw four man in private clothes with guns and two South African police officers. Someone tipped us off and said they were looking for us to arrest us.

“We managed to slip away without them noticing and we are currently in hiding. I had to relocate my wife and children to Zambia for their safety and I don’t think I’ll see them again. I know if caught we will be deported to the Congo where we will be killed.”

Mpinda said after the bail application of the eight men, they were going to march to the offices of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to open a case of police brutality after more than 200 of their compatriots were injured by rubber bullets during a picket earlier this month in front of the embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Hatfield, Pretoria.

The group was demanding that DRC President Joseph Kabila and ambassador Bene M’poko step down. Kabila’s and M’poko’s terms ended on Monday, but they have remained in their positions pending elections.

Eight people were arrested after stones were thrown at the embassy and police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. The embassy has since shut its doors.

More than 20 people have been killed in the DRC’s capital of Kinshasa during clashes between protesters and security forces in recent days.

Kabila formed a 74-member transitional government after the electoral commission cancelled presidential elections that were scheduled for last month.

“They want to silence us and the South African government is not helping us. Some of us have been in SA for more than 10 years but our papers are still not in order. If things change for the better in our country, we will be the first to get on a bus to return home,” Mpinda said from his hiding place.

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