By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
CAPE TOWN, South Africa—South African police today, Sunday, February 10, announced that the “ringleader” of a group of 19 Congolese rebels today faces charges of plotting a war with the goal of unseating the Congolese President, Joseph Kabila.
The ringleader, who the police declined to identify, was arrested on Friday. Captain Paul Ramaloko, a spokesman for the South Africa Police Service said that the leader did not fight the arrest, however, he did not offer any further details. The Captain did mention that, “he cooperated with us.”
The group of 19 individuals, including a United States citizen, also appeared before the South African court to face charges under the Foreign Military Assistance Act with their leader. The group was arrested in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province under the suspicion of running an illegal military operation. A law enforcement official said that they were actually members of the M23 rebels that have been working to overtake parts of Mali’s eastern region. The group members were not asked to enter any pleas, but rather have been ordered to return to court later this week on February 14, 2013.
These 19 individuals were arrested before their “leader” on February 5. South African prosecutors commented that the group believed that they had been on their way to a training camp, where they would learn the tactics they would need in order to wage a full scale war against the Kabila government. What the men did not know was that they were set up. The people that the group of 19 were in touch with were actually undercover police officers.
The rebel suspects asked the undercover officers for thousands of machine guns and grenades as well as missiles, cash, radios and satellite phones. In return, the group offered the officers mining rights in eastern Congo, where mining experts estimate mineral deposits worth trillions of dollars. One of the suspects is James Kazongo, a United States citizen who lives in Middletown, Delaware. He denied the charges against him and has been in contact with the United States Embassy in South Africa.
The arrested “ringleader,” Ramakolo said, is one of the main players in the plot, “in organizing the coup attempt.” He also will be expected to appear in court early this week.
For further information, please see:
ABC News – South Africa Police: Congo Rebel Ringleader Arrested – 10 February 2013
Business Day Live – South African Police Arrest Another Suspect in Alleged DRC Coup Plot – 10 February 2013
Calgary Herald – South Africa Police Say ‘Ringleader’ of 19 Congolese Rebels Allegedly Plotting Coup Arrested – 10 February 2013
Mail & Guardian – DRC Rebel Ringleader Arrested in Cape Town – 10 February 2013