Congolese protest over ‘rigged’ election

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ST p5e2mainCongolese01 (21401096) INLSA NAKED TRUTH: Surrounded by Congolese immigrants, a naked man holds up a placard during a protest against what they deemed as unfair elections in their home country, outside the ANCs Luthuli House headquarters in Joburg yesterday. Picture: Adrian de Kock

SHAUN SMILLIE AND ANGELIQUE SERRAO

POLICE fired rubber bullets at a crowd of Democratic Republic of Congo nationals gathered outside Luthuli House in Joburg yesterday, after the protesters had indecently exposed themselves and refused to disperse.

The crowd of about 200 gathered in President Street, carrying placards and handing out cards that bore a photograph of a DRC opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi.

They had gathered because they felt recent elections in the DRC had been rigged. Some protesters threw pieces of paper in the air while others exposed themselves to the police.

When the crowd refused to move to Beyers Naudé Square, police threw two teargas canisters at the crowd and began firing rubber bullets.

As the protesters scattered, police officers moved in, some kicking and hitting. One SAPS official struck a middle-aged woman, the blow sending her to the ground. “Go back to your own country,” he said.

ST congolese02 (21401093) CANT BARE IT: Some protesters took off their clothes to express their unhappiness with President Jacob Zumas support for President Joseph Kabila. Picture: Adrian de Kock INLSA

Staff members from Luthuli House joined in, hitting protesters as they ran past.

One man ran out of the ANC headquarters, punched a protester and darted back into the building.

In another incident, personnel from Luthuli House manhandled a photographer from The Star, Ihsaan Haffejee. He was grabbed by his shirt, and they threatened to take his camera. They also demanded to know if he was a foreigner.

Police chased the crowd across Beyers Naudé Square, continuing to fire, while the protesters threw rocks.

After the shooting had died down, protesters carried one of the injured towards the police line. Another man with the group walked up to the police and, tapping his chest, told them to shoot the man. One policeman fired warning shots into the ground. When the protesters did not disperse, police opened fire.

They shot at the injured man as he lay on the ground, grabbed him and arrested him.

ST congolese04 (21401094) FIRE POWER: A man scoops up an injured protester as policemen open fire with rubber bullets. Picture: Adrian de Kock INLSA

SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou said police had detained 11 people. “They were arrested for public violence and because they exposed themselves in public,” he said.

John Kabeya, one of the crowd, asked: “Why are the police doing this?”

Several of the crowd showed off bloody marks left by rubber bullets. No one was seriously injured, according to the police.

After the shooting, some of the protesters said they had gathered as they believed the DRC elections had been rigged and that President Joseph Kabila would retain power.

“We want Kabila to go, we are tired of this government and we want to go back home,” Kabeya said.

The protesters accused President Jacob Zuma of supporting Kabila, saying Zuma’s family has financial interests in the DRC. “Zuma is behind Kabila, Zuma supports crime in my country,” Donald Birindwa said.

ST congolese07 (21401095) Outnumbered: A protester pleads with a policeman as police and Luthuli House staff members descend on him. Picture: Adrian de Kock INLSA

The leaders of the protest handed over a memorandum of demands to Luthuli House calling on SA to pressure the DRC government not to publish what the protesters referred to as the “fraudulent publication of the phantom provisional results”.

It also called for action to be taken against any South African company taking part in fraudulent activity in the DRC.

By late afternoon, the crowd began to disperse.

There were other protests involving DRC nationals. In Pretoria, police arrested four people at the DRC Embassy for malicious damage to property.

In Cape Town, a group gathered at the Western Cape Legislature, calling on Premier Helen Zille to assist them to “liberate” their country.


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maphakisa, wrote

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09:14am on 7 December 2011
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this is our country they don't have rights here. we should make sure that they go back to were they come from.we will never or never did that during our stragle we formed umkhonto we siswe to fight our goverment.

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kayembe, wrote

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08:59am on 7 December 2011
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is time to fight for the land of shaka zulu bandu biko

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Douki, wrote

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04:23pm on 6 December 2011
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They don't want us in their country and still manage to create or contribute to the chaos in our land,how many congolese were in SA in the 70's or 80's?we will go home as soon as you stop supporting the clowns who are leading congo,you make me sick in my stomac...SA knows what the opression means or the lack of freedom,SA should be helping us not kicking an already fallen people

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Anonymous, wrote

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02:49pm on 6 December 2011
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South Africa must be be in the front line to help other african countries to reach the standard level of democracy. It is sad to notice that those that are supposed to help today are fallen into corruption when it comes to the rescue of countries that are still struggling for democracy.

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