Scam, kidnap by South African police

Scam, kidnap by South African police

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Scam, kidnap by South African police

Scam, kidnap by South African police

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Nelson Mandela click here
Rhinoceroses click here
Congolese 20 were scammed and kidnapped: 16 worked as security guards, one as a chef, one claims to be the son of the late President Laurent Kabila click here
Changing currency in South Africa click here
Congo pleads for help click here
Twenty innocent men charged with planning a coup against the president of Congo: evidence was fabricated click here
James Kazongo makes the best chips in the world click here
Release the Congolese 20 click here
South African Oranges, Sovereignty and Pretoria Central Prison. MJoTA 2013 v7n1 0521


This morning I awoke before dawn and made my way to Pretoria Central Prison with relatives of the Congolese 20 - a wife and a brother – and 2 supportive members of the Congolese community. We loaded the car with toiletries, blankets, food for the men: our instructions were only foods and drinks in clear plastic packages, plus bags of apples, grapefruit, oranges…

South African oranges. We eat them in New Jersey. They come by container ship to Philadelphia.

A lot of goods come from Africa into Philadelphia. Cocoa from West Africa, mostly from Cote D’Ivoire. So that it can be converted into chocolate by Hershey’s, and sold back to Africa.

The trade between South Africa and Pennsylvania is continuous; at the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Africa and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs has frequently invited the Pennsylvania officers in charge of overseeing these trades.

The movement of people between South Africa and Pennsylvania is also regulated; and officers in charge of keeping the peace between South Africa and the United States staff the Embassies and Consulates.

The capital city of South Africa is Pretoria, where the United States has an embassy which makes sure all goes smoothly in trade in oranges and treatment of Americans in South Africa and South Africans in the US.

I am sympathetic to the Congolese 20 and their families and friends; goodness gracious, why else would I be in South Africa for the trial?

The most usual question I hear is why has President Obama not intervened to spring James Kazongo out of jail? After all, President Obama has an African father, and James Kazongo is an American citizen.

I answer patiently that the diplomatic staff of the US Embassy in Pretoria could not be more helpful. They first contacted Janine Kazongo and told her that her husband had been detained awaiting trial, have frequently visited James Kazongo in prison and has passed on to him things sent by Janine.

A foreign power interfering with the laws of a sovereign country: oh no. That is an act of war. The US has to wait until the judicial processes have played out. And the more I learn, the more I know that the Congolese 20 will be acquitted. These processes grind far more slowly than any of their relatives and friends want; but they are moving and I know the outcome will be positive for the men.

James Kazongo told me his story today; so did Chadrien Kilele.

Chadrian Kilele was the link between the Congolese 20 and Pretoria Central Prison. He told me his nephew brought a man to him who wanted contact with Etienne Kabila. The nephew knew that Mr Kilele and Mr Etienne Kabila were friends. Mr Kilele was wooed by Andrew Nkuna and his white friends with pictures of them with senior South African government and ANC party officials and official documents.

Mr Kilele is the father of 6 children, and a student of forensic science, and everything he saw convinced him they really did want to help Congolese refugees, as they claimed, and they had money to do this.

Mr Kilele met several times with the men who were willing to help the desperate plight of the Congolese refugees in South Africa, and twice convinced Mr Etienne Kabila to travel the 2,000 km from Capetown to Johannesburg to meet them.

The second meeting, Mr Kabila smelled a rat, and did his best to convince Mr Kilele to get far away from these men.

And then the emails started. From Sep to Jan, emails offering increasingly more cash for contracts. Once Mr Kabila was no longer communicating with Mr Kilele and the men who claimed to be friends of Congo, the story changed.

The sums of money offered had increased from USD30,000 to USD450,000 by the time Mr Kilele took the bait, and contacted James Kasongo. The work for this sum was to set up an anti-poaching camp to stop rhinos being killed for their horns.

Mr Kazongo’s task, in return for USD100,000, was to show up in Johannesburg, travel with Mr Kilele and the 19 of the Congolese 20, receive the cash from the white sympathizers of the Congo, give USD2,500 to each of 16 men who worked as security guards for work as security guards in the anti-rhino poaching jobs, and the balance to Mr Kilele and another man. He was then to stuff his cash into a suitcase, and fly back to his family on Feb 5. Which was the day they were arrested after being kidnapped in Limpopo.

Stories from about 5 sources are strikingly similar, but the intent of this scam and kidnapping has only now revealed itself.

Right from the beginning, the target was Mr Etienne Kabila, who claims to be the son of the late president of Congo, Mr Laurent Kabila, and politically opposes the current president, Mr Joseph Kabila.

On Feb 5, when 19 of the Congolese 20 were arrested in Limpopo, off-hand remarks from their kidnappers included references to them being in a killing field, and the only reason they were kept alive was because Mr Kabila was not with them.

I believe the plan had been to kidnap all 20 of the Congolese 20, and shoot them all dead under the pretext of self-defense or whatever pretext kidnappers need to get away with cold-blooded murder.

But because their trap had not caught Mr Kabila, they still needed him, so they gave fabricated stories about having captured a desperate band of armed-to-the-teeth revolutionaries and broadcast widely that Mr Kabila was needed for questioning. So he was caught. He is the last of the Congolese 20. He all along was the intended target: all the other 19 are collateral damage.

I fear for Mr Etienne Kabila.

And odd things have been happening in prison. The men for 10 days were not allowed out of their cells, which has signs on the walls saying “life in prison”.

Their first lawyer was approached by senior officials from the current government of Congo with money to make sure the lawyer worked to convict the men. The lawyer did not even show up for their bail hearing.

The trial starts on Thursday. The Congolese 20 told me the proceedings could take 2 weeks. Or 2 years. They do not know.

Meanwhile, their children are growing up, and their wives are forging lives alone, unable to pay school fees, threatened daily. They all want asylum in America. They have already been told their refugee status in South Africa has been revoked.

And I heard yesterday 6 Congolese were arrested and are in another jail. I need to find out more about that.

And on Saturday a Congolese was shot dead in an internet café in Johannesburg.

And yesterday a hard-working Congolese was arrested and sent to the deportation camp. For deportation to Congo where he faces rapid execution.

And today on the drive back from Pretoria Central Prison, we were stopped by police next to a garden where 2010 is spelled out in soccer balls. Our driver was harassed and money was demanded from him. Driving when Congolese.

God help Congolese refugees.

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