Congolese in SA protest against genocide in DRC

Congolese nationals were joined by human rights and solidarity organisations to protest against genocide in the DRC. Picture: Shakirah Thebus

Congolese nationals were joined by human rights and solidarity organisations to protest against genocide in the DRC. Picture: Shakirah Thebus

Published Mar 18, 2024


Cape Town - Congolese-South African youth and children of nationals who fled their home country led a march against what has been widely referred to as the ongoing silent genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The march, from Hanover Street in District Six to Parliament on Saturday, was convened by the Congolese Civil Society of SA.

It was endorsed and supported by human rights and solidarity organisations, some of which included the SA Federation of Trade Unions, Rural Women’s Assembly, WOMIN, TCOE, Cry of the Xcluded, Africa Unite, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, SA Jews for a Free Palestine, Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education and Bertha House.

Since 1996, about 6 million people have been killed in the eastern part of the mineral-rich DRC, either directly or indirectly as a result of the conflict.

The region has more than 100 armed rebel groups who have been carrying out mass murders, rape, and large-scale looting, resulting in mass displacement and an alarming humanitarian crisis.

One of the key figures fingered in arming the rebel groups was the Rwandan government. This could be seen in the caricatured image of President Paul Kagame carried by protesters as the Rwandan government has been accused of providing military support to the March 23 Movement, or M23, a claim denied by Rwanda.

Initiator of the march Noelle Isaacs, 18, from Wynberg, said: “The reason why there’s not much international coverage on the situation is because the Western allies/Western superpowers do take part in this genocide. There is evidence that they have been funding the Rwandan rebels so obviously they won’t stand against it when they are involved as well.”

The DRC has previously claimed that an estimated $1 billion (R18.78bn) was lost annually as a result of smuggling of minerals to Rwanda.

Congolese Civil Society of SA vice-chairperson, Joe Yves Salankang, said 10 million people have been killed in 30 years, however, this was not a “big concern” in Africa or globally.

“We have two kinds of war in the world. There is a war where people are fighting each other and that is when we see people voicing out and trying to stop it, and also a situation like ours where the war is fuelling and feeding the economy of the world.”

“So the Congolese situation is one where everybody knows what's happening but as long as the looting and turmoil in Congo is supporting the growth of the economy out of Congo, everybody can let it carry on.

“South Africa is well placed and well-respected even on the continent. I think South Africa can play its role in terms of diplomacy to put more pressure on institutions like the UN and AU, even the SADC for concrete action to be taken against Rwanda, against Uganda but also in favour of those poor populations in Congo.”

South Africa was the first destination for Congolese refugees and by assisting to create stability in the DRC, this would have an impact on the refugee situation in South Africa.

Society chairperson, Isaiah Mobilo, said: “The killing of Congolese started a long time ago in the period of Leopold II, King of Belgium, where he killed half of the population of Congo because of rubber to boost the industrial automobile so always when there’s an increase of technology around the world, Congo has to pay the price?”

Mombilo said he hoped the government would take similar steps, as in the case for Palestine, at the the International Court of Justice, for Congo and for sanctions to be placed on Rwanda.

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Cape Argus

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