This morning the Congolese 20 were herded into
Pretoria Magistrates Court for the first day of their trial.
On the way into the courtroom, James Kazongo
was seen shivering. He stumbled and fell back and hit his head on the dock. This was after he had been bashed with a baton by a guard when he was trying to get access to a telephone. He was left on the floor where he fell while the other men were taken into another room. When the judge arrived 20 minutes later, he was helped up, and the other men brought back. The court was in session and James Kazongo remained with the other Congolese 20 until court ended. I have yet to hear if he is receiving
I already knew that the defense lawyer planned
to postpone the trial, so I canceled plans to attend, instead gathering with
relatives and friends to hear by phone from those in attendance. We heard from
our contacts that the lawyer paid by the Congolese 20 was not permitted to
talk. That the judge made him be quiet. The contacts were saying this is more
proof of corruption.
No, I said. This was the judge following the law. The
lawyer has said all the money already paid is gone and will probably no longer represent them: we know this because he insisted that he
would not proceed with the defence of the Congolese 20 unless he was given 15,000 rand by today.
I explained that the paid lawyer showed up in court because he is the lawyer of
record and could lose his license for not appearing. Whether or not he planned to defend them.
By South African law, the indicted
have to be legally represented, so the judge followed procedure and appointed a
free lawyer. And postponed the start of the trial until Aug 1st. To
give the defense lawyer a chance to understand the case and to give
the prosecutor time to lose the fabricated evidence.
The prosecutor tied himself in knots. He asked for postponement for 3 reasons:
1. To look for more evidence of guilt by the Congolese 20
2. To have more time to translate French documents into English
3. To arrest more suspects
These reasons are of course nonsense and only said to intimidate the Congolese 20 and their friends and relatives. I have no doubt that by now the prosecutor knows that the evidence against the Congolese has all been fabricated.
The prosecutor did not stop there. Since the case is falling apart, the prosecutor has decided to reshuffle the deck and change the charges. The prosecutor wants to divide the trial into 4 parts, to have 4 trials. One for Etienne Kabila, one for James Kazongo, one for Patrick and Jeff and Chadrian and one for the 15 others. Fabricated evidence for 20 men who were scammed and kidnapped will be sliced and diced.
And the prosecutor wants to move the Congolese 20 from Pretoria Central Prison to Capetown, which is 2,000 miles south west, on the coast. For men who should be out on bail, waiting for a trial that may or may not start on Aug 1st. Or may never start.
Meanwhile, Congolese refugees are feeling harassed and want
to seek asylum in the United States. I am telling them: not a good idea.
Philadelphia is 20%, we have cold weather and the US is not a socialist state.
Being admitted into America is to be given an opportunity to work hard, if work
and opportunities can be found.
If anyone outside the US is not being beaten up, or shot at,
and has free healthcare, and are living in a country that is very proud of its constitution
and legal system, a family with parents in their 40s and property are better
off where they are. Which is South Africa for so many sons and daughters of Congo.
How many times have Africans told me they should have stayed where
they were rather than come to the US? How many times have I thought the same
thing myself; and how many times did my parents regret taking my brothers and
me first the New Zealand, and then to Australia.
Potential immigrants often don’t take everything into
consideration. For me, the worst part of being in Philadelphia 12,000 miles
from my parents in Australia was that they died without me. But that is the
price of being an immigrant, being far away from your support system. Many
Congolese immigrants to South Africa have been here for over 10 years.
Uprooting, selling everything they have to buy airline tickets and then having
nothing to go to, not a good idea unless you have to.
And do the Congolese 20 have to leave South Africa with
At the moment, their work permits have been revoked and the men
are facing deportation to Congo. The wives and relatives want to seek asylum in
America, in Australia, in Canada, anywhere.
I believe that the Congolese 20 will be released after a fair trial and permitted to
remain in South Africa.
And the white policemen who conducted the scam and
kidnapping will be put on trial.
Because it is either they found culpable for
the gross betrayal and fraud they committed; or the Congolese 20 found guilty
at trial on the basis of fabricated evidence.
Does South Africa have enough good men and
women to toss out the lies and bring the white policeman to trial?
so. And while they are at it, put on trial the guard that beat up James Kazongo.