The death of Derrick Chanda, a Zambian truck driver who was burnt to death in his vehicle at Kasumbalesa border post by some mob of Democratic Republic of Congo nationals has had a very profound effect on me. I feel a deep sense of moral outrage at the senseless murder of a foreign nation in that country.
The Post newspaper reports that a group of Congolese citizens blocked the road at a sloppy area in Kasumbalesa, “demanding that the truck allows them to pass as they were going for a burial. And when the truck tried to swerve, it overturned in the process and spilt the cement which was looted by the same people, including suspected police officers. When they looted the cement, the story changed from going to the burial and now they accused him of hitting one mourner and they pushed him back inside the truck and burnt him beyond recognition.”
According to the same source over 700 truck drivers from SADC region countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique have refused to cross the border into Dr. Congo because of security concerns. They are demanding an immediate stop to their mistreatment by the Congolese. They said this during a meeting with Chililabombwe acting district commissioner Stephen Chishiko at Kasumbalesa border post:
“Sir, we appreciate your efforts as the government of Zambia in resolving this crisis but we cannot return to work until we are addressed by a Congolese official at the highest level, not the mayor of Kasumbalesa,” said a driver from Zimbabwe.
“Look, this is the only opportunity we have to change the mindset of the Congolese people, they have to assure us that they have stopped harassing us, too many bribes along the way, anyone can do anything to you in Congo. In Zambia systems work very well but in Congo individuals matter and we told the immigration officer on the Congo side that when you come to Zambia, you operate freely without any inconveniences and he shocked us with his response, he called us fools. We will not go into Congo until they address these issues especially security, it’s an open prison. http://www.postzambia.com/post-read_article.php?articleId=28509.
The burning of Chanda is remiscemt of the necklace Xenophobic attacks that came to the attention of world in South Africa
The sentiments expressed by the driver from Zimbabwe are a true reflection of the situation in Dr. Congo – it is an open prison where anyone can do anything to a foreigner. This unbridled impunity to mistreat, abuse, rape, and even murder foreigners in the Congo DR. has been going on since the 1960s. Because of the harassment of Zambians at the hands of the Congolese “Ba Kaboke”, for instance, the former president of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, constructed the Tuta road with the help of the Chinese, as an alternative route away from the Pedicle Road in the Congo. Kaunda urged Zambians – especially fro Luapula and the Copperbelt provinces – to use the Tuta road to avoid skirmishes with the Congolese.
Imagine being harassed because you have a flat nose, bald head, rounded cheeks, or because you were skinny or fat! Many a Zambian people paid huge sums of money to the Congolese immigration officers ( Ba Soda) for petty “offences” which beat reason and common sense. Other Zambians, unfortunately, especially traders, have lost money and goods through extortion of brides and favors at every corner in the Congo DR. Yet others languish in Congolese prisons, or have died in silence.
In spite of its huge resources and great potential the Democratic Republic of Congo is a tragedy. Its earliest inhabitants, believed to have been Pygmy tribes who lived by hunting and gathering food and using stone tools, were driven into the forests by waves of Bantu-speaking migrants who entered from the west by 150 AD, while non-Bantu-speakers penetrated the area from the north. These peoples brought with them agriculture and developed iron tools. Later, the country received Europeans – the first being the Portuguese in 1482. Other non-African contacts were the Arabs who traded in slaves and ivory in the Luba country from the east in the late 1850s or early 1860s.
King Leopold II of Belgium commissioned the explorer, Stanley to undertake explorations into the Congo and to make treaties with the tribal chiefs. In 1878, the monarch formed the International Association of the Congo, a development company, with himself as the chief stockholder. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 recognized the Independent State of the Congo, set up by Leopold II under his personal rule, and its ultimate boundaries were established by treaties with other colonial powers.
The rise of nationalism in the various African territories following World War II saw the creation of an independent Republic of the Congo on 30 June 1960, with Joseph Kasavubu as its first head of state and Patrice Lumumba its first premier. The country was immediately confronted by massive economic, political, and social problems: the armed forces mutinied, and separatist movements and intertribal conflict threatened to split the territory.
Ever since then, the DR Congo has become a very unstable country that has seen coups, assassinations of its leaders and civil wars. Part of the reason has been due to military interventions from foreign powers such as the United States, France, Belgium, Rwanda, and Uganda in their quest to gain control of the country’s huge resources like gold, emeralds, copper, diamonds, cobalt, and uranium. http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Congo-Democratic-Republic-of-the-DROC-HISTORY.html,
To date the DR Congo is – politically speaking – a failed state, a country where public officers such as the police and immigration officials unashamedly wrest money and other kinds of bribes from foreigners, and also where bands of militia and the army rape women and kill children, as millions of its people wallow in abject poverty.
The death of Derrik Chanda, the Zambian truck driver in Kasumbalesa, therefore demands an immediate action from our government in Lusaka to compel the Congolese authorities to respect the rule of law and the rights and privileges of foreigners. The Congolese should also be made to compensate for the death of Derrik, the damaged truck and looted goods on the truck.
The Congolese should also arrest and try all those people who were involved in the murder of Derrick Chanda. Zambian police should be involved in the investigations. Lastly, the Congolese government should guarantee to respect the security, rights, privileges and freedoms of every foreigner who comes to their country as stipulated under international laws and covenants.
Yet in order to force the government in DR. Congo to act, the Sata-led government in Lusaka should, unlike in the past when the Zambian officials used quiet diplomacy, now show teeth and publicly denounce the killing of their citizen and demand for an immediate apology from the Joseph Kabila government in Kinshasa.
For the time being, the Zambian authorities should also close all borders between DR. Congo and the Zambia, and halt any movement of goods across the border areas. Since this tragedy also involves other SADC countries as well, Zambia should immediately brief these countries of our program of action and table a plan to combat future occurrences of these atrocities by Congolese nationals and public officials.
May the soul of Derrick Chanda rest in peace!