Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Congolese soldier kills Zambian truck driver
By Darious Kapembwa
Fri 31 Jan. 2014, 15:50 CAT

THERE is tension at Kasumbalesa border post after a Zambian truck driver was shot dead by Congolese security personnel on the Congo side. Copperbelt minister Mwenya Musenge has confirmed the development. Drivers have been refusing to cross into the DRC following the incident, saying they need to be guaranteed security.

According to a reliable source from the customs department at the border, Patrick Mwila, 30, a driver from GASS Transport belonging to a Somalian national, met his fate after he refused to give a Congolese soldier US$10 bribe so that he could access the Wisky, an area where transit trucks en route to Zambia and beyond park awaiting clearance.

"What happens is that during day time, the queues are controlled by police officers and when police knock off, the soldiers take charge. Now these Congolese soldiers want to earn a living, so what they do is that they charge 10 dollars for those that want to bypass trucks that are parked in front and enter into the Wisky for early clearance," the official explained.

"So Mwila saw trucks from behind bypassing him into the Wisky, so he attempted to do the same and that is how he was asked to pay 10 dollars but he refused that he had no money. So this soldier saw that Mwila was adamant, he started to remove the number plate from his truck but he resisted and was told not to get near the soldier but since he wanted his number plate, he continued to resist and that is how the soldier shot him and fled the scene," he said.

Mwila's body was reported to have been taken to Sodomico hospital mortuary on the Congo side.

The official said there had been no activities yesterday as drivers from the Zambian side were refusing to cross into Congo.

"Since morning, drivers have been refusing to enter Congo. There is virtually no movement; the only movement is that of Zambian trucks coming from Lubumbashi that are being allowed to guarantee their safety in Zambia rather than being trapped inside Congo," he said.

The official hinted that the border may be totally closed today to allow for every Zambian driver that may still be in Lubumbashi to cross back into Zambia.

And Musenge said there was need to find a lasting solution to end the killing of Zambian truck drivers by some trigger-happy security personnel in the DRC.

"Right now, our men are on the ground; we are trying to engage the consulate. It is very sad, but we are asking our people to exercise maximum restraint and calm. We want to provide leadership. We really have to find a lasting solution to these deaths at Kasumbalesa. It does not augur well to be losing lives at Kasumbalesa. This was an act of one unruly person. We really want to see justice done on this officer," Musenge said.

In July 2012, a Zambian driver, Derick Chanda, was burnt alive in Congo, leading to a border paralysis for almost a week as all SADC drivers boycotted entry into Congo.

In September last year, another Zambian, Wynter Mafikeni of Ndola, was killed and his body dumped 100 metres away from the truck he was driving.

And a Zimbabwean truck driver Patrick Murifi was shot in both legs in the Congo in September last year.

SADC drivers have bemoaned harassment and corruption by Congolese security personnel in that country

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