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South Africa and Democratic Republic of the Congo: Congolese protests in South Africa against the November 2011 election results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, the protest on 19 January 2012; arrests, detentions, conditions of release and deportation following these protests (November 2011-May 2013)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 21 May 2013
Citation / Document Symbol ZZZ104422.FE
Related Document(s) Afrique du Sud et République démocratique du Congo : information sur des manifestations de Congolais en Afrique du Sud pour protester contre les résultats des élections de novembre 2011 en République démocratique du Congo, en particulier la manifestation qui aurait eu lieu le 19 janvier 2012; information sur des arrestations, des détentions, les conditions de libération et des expulsions survenues à la suite de ces manifestations (novembre 2011-mai 2013)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, South Africa and Democratic Republic of the Congo: Congolese protests in South Africa against the November 2011 election results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, the protest on 19 January 2012; arrests, detentions, conditions of release and deportation following these protests (November 2011-May 2013), 21 May 2013, ZZZ104422.FE , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/52de2f504.html [accessed 23 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. Organized Protests in South Africa by Congolese Nationals

Following the November 2011 elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), DRC nationals protested in South Africa against the election results (UK Nov. 2012, para. 4.01, 4.05; Œil d'Afrique 24 May 2012; AFP 5 Dec. 2011).

1.1 Protests on 29 November 2011

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) stated that there was a clash between some Congolese and the police at Johannesburg international airport on 29 November 2011 (AFP 5 Dec. 2011). The Congolese were [translation] "furious to find out that some voting ballots were in transit to Kinshasa one day after the election" (ibid.). According to the AFP, private companies in South Africa printed the Congolese voting ballots at the request of the Congolese electoral commission (ibid.). According to the AFP, the South African government was [translation] "not involved," although the South African army was monitoring the [translation] "proper transport of the election material" (ibid.). Corroborating information or information indicating whether the Congolese involved in this conflict were arrested or detained could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

1.2 Protests on 5 December 2011

On 5 December 2011, Congolese nationals protested in Johannesburg and in Pretoria, and there were clashes between the protesters and the South African police in those cities (RFI 6 Dec. 2011; AFP 5 Dec. 2011; KongoTimes! 5 Dec. 2011). The protesters accused South Africa of [translation] "interfering" in the Congolese elections (RFI 6 Dec. 2011; AFP 5 Dec. 2011). According to the AFP, South African observers led an elections observation mission sent by the southern African community (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

A group of protesters attacked the DRC embassy in Pretoria and damaged the building (RFI 6 Dec. 2011; AFP 5 Dec. 2011). According to the AFP, demonstrators were protesting that the election results were announced in South Africa rather than in the DRC (ibid.). Five people were taken to the police station (ibid.; RFI 6 Dec. 2011).

According to KongoTimes!, a site that provides Congolese and international news, the police fired rubber bullets at a group of protesters in front the ANC offices in Johannesburg (5 Dec. 2011). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

1.3 Protests and Arrests on 19 January 2012

On 19 January 2012, the South African police conducted a raid on some Congolese nationals in the Yeoville neighbourhood in Johannesburg (Mail & Guardian 3 Feb. 2012; The Star 20 Jan. 2012). Yeoville is described as a predominantly Congolese neighbourhood (Mail & Guardian 3 Feb. 2012). The Mail & Guardian, a South African daily based in Johannesburg, states that, according to police, 150 Congolese men were arrested (ibid.). However, the lawyer for the men arrested said that more than 300 men were detained after the raid (ibid.). Still according to the Mail & Guardian, 20 men, accused of "kidnapping, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, public violence and malicious damage to property" were released on bail (ibid.).

The South African daily Star stated that, according to a witness, the police targeted foreign nationals who had participated in a protest earlier that day (The Star 20 Jan. 2012). According to the Star, some observers were convinced that the police's mission was to "silence everyone who is campaigning against the Congolese government" (ibid.). A police spokesman, however, told the Star that they were arresting illegal immigrants (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Witnesses stated that Fabrice Shungu, described as an agent of the Congolese regime, helped the police identify the people to arrest (Mail & Guardian 3 Feb. 2012; The Star 20 Jan. 2012). He was known under the name of "Zombi" (ibid.) or "King Zombi" (Mail & Guardian 3 Feb. 2012). According to the Mail & Guardian, there were rumours that Fabrice Shungu was trying to inveigle himself into the Congolese elite of President Joseph Kabila by quelling the anti-Kabila opposition among the Congolese in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town (3 Feb. 2012). The Mail & Guardian added that Fabrice Shungu was the founder and president of Les Amis de Joseph Kabila Kabange [friends of Joseph Kabila Kabange], an organization that helps South African business people to invest in the DRC (3 Feb. 2012). Corroborating information or information concerning the outcome of the other people arrested could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

2. Treatment of Repatriated Persons

In November 2012, the United Kingdom Border Agency (UK Border Agency) published the results of a fact finding mission to Kinshasa from 18 to 28 June 2012, during which representatives of Congolese human rights NGOs provided information on the treatment of repatriated Congolese in the DRC, including some from South Africa (UK Nov. 2012, Sec. 4). The interlocutors interviewed during the British mission were chosen in consultation with the British Embassy in Kinshasa: DRC country researchers in French and Belgian government organizations dealing with refugee issues, as well as researchers from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (ibid., para. vii).

According to representatives of Les Amis de Nelson Mandela and Renadhoc [national network of human rights NGOs], some Congolese in South Africa who were returned to the DRC were sent to the Kasapa prison in Lubumbashi, in the province of Katanga (UK Nov. 2012, para. 4.04, 4.06). The people sent to Lubumbashi were "mistreated," according to Les Amis de Nelson Mandela (ibid., para. 4.04).

Some representatives of the Black Togas (Toges noires) stated to the British mission that almost all of the Congolese repatriated from outside of the DRC are detained (ibid., para. 4.12). However, a Congolese human rights organization, the exact name of which is not provided, told the British representatives that not all of the repatriated individuals were detained, only those identified as "combatants" (ibid., para. 4.11). According to that organization, all people who are believed to be "combatants" are "mistreated" (ibid.). The Mail & Guardian states that, according to the director of the African Governance Institute at the University of North Carolina, the term "combatant" was first used by the supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi, the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, UDSP), a Congolese opposition party; the term is now used by some Congolese protesters, who are not all UDPS members, in different cities (3 Feb. 2012).

2.1 Treatment of Protesters Who Were Repatriated

Sources state that some Congolese nationals were deported from South Africa after they participated in the protests against the Congolese elections in November 2011 (Œil d'Afrique 24 May 2012; UK Nov. 2012, para. 4.01, 4.05).

Œil d'Afrique, a site that provides African news, published an article on a press release by a Congolese human rights NGO (ACAJ n.d.), the Association congolaise pour l'accès à la justice [Congolese Association for Access to Justice] (ACAJ) (Œil d'Afrique 24 May 2012). In this press release, the ACAJ [translation] "condemned ... the repeated deportations of Congolese living in South Africa and the detention of about 30 of them in Lubumbashi, Katanga province [in the DRC]" (ibid.). The ACAJ pointed out that 81 Congolese were deported from South Africa in the four months prior to May 2012 (ibid.). According to the ACAJ, 51 deported people arrived in Lubumbashi in February 2012, and the other 30 arrived on 6 May 2012 (ibid.). Still according to the ACAJ, the people deported were arrested and first [translation] "detained in the Lindela prison, near Sun City [in South Africa]" (ibid.). The ACAJ stated [translation], "the 51 people were released after signing, at the Lubumbashi prosecutor general's office, an agreement to not re-enter South Africa" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The ACAJ considers that [translation] "these actions demonstrate a willingness to return people deemed to be or identified as opponents of the Kinshasa government to the DRC" (ibid.). According to the ACAJ news release, although the reasons given for this refoulement were the [translation] "illegal stays" of the Congolese, the testimonies of the repatriated indicate instead that they were [translation] "returned to their country because of their participation in the various angry protests organized after the results of the presidential and legislative elections of November 2011 were published" (ibid.).

Representatives of the NGOs Human Rescue, the Black Togas, and the Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Association de défense des droits de l'homme, ASADHO) told the British mission that they knew that some Congolese had been returned to the DRC after protests held in South Africa after the Congolese elections of November 2011 (UK Nov. 2012, para. 4.01, 4.05, 4.12). According to representatives of the Black Togas, some people who had participated in the protests, who were returned, were sent to the Kasapa prison in Lubumbashi, in Katanga Province (ibid., para. 4.12). ASADHO stated that about 50 people who had participated in the protests, who were repatriated from South Africa, were sent to the Buluwo prison, in Katanga Province and were still there in June 2012 (ibid., para. 4.05). According to ASADHO, it is a "political" prison with "high security" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 5 December 2011. "Des Congolais accusent l'Afrique du Sud d'ingérence, attaquent leur ambassade." (Factiva)

Association congolaise pour l'accès à la justice (ACAJ). N.d. "Bienvenue sur le site officiel de l'ACAJ!" [Accessed 13 May 2013]

KongoTimes! 5 November 2011. "Soutien à TSHISEKEDI : démonstration de force des combattants à Paris, à Bruxelles et en Afrique du Sud". [Accessed 13 May 2013]

Mail & Guardian [Johannesburg]. 2 February 2012. Niren Tolsi. "DRC Election Protest Goes Viral." [Accessed 14 May 2013]

Œil d'Afrique. 24 May 2012. Lucien Dianzenza. "Des Congolais expulsés d'Afrique du Sud détenus à la prison de Kasapa." [Accessed 14 May 2013]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 5 December 2012. "RDC : jour J pour les résultats de la présidentielle." [Accessed 13 May 2013]

The Star [Johannesburg]. 20 January 2012. Mpiletso Motumi. "Fearful Refugees Caught in Yeoville Raid". [Accessed 14 May 2013]

United Kingdom (UK). November 2012. Border Agency. Democratic Republic of Congo - Report of a Fact Finding Mission to Kinshasa Conducted Between 18 and 28 June 2012: Information about the Procedure for and Treatment of Congolese Nationals Returning to the Democratic Republic of Congo from the United Kingdom and Western Europe. [Accessed 13 May 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sources, including: 7 sur 7; Agence Belga; AllAfrica; Amnesty International; L'Avenir; BSC Infos; Congo DRC News; Congo Indépendant; Le Congolais; Digital Congo; ecoi.net; Factiva; Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme; France - Cour nationale du droit d'asile; Human Rights Watch; The Jamestown; Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor; Jeune Afrique; Le Potentiel; La Prospérité; Radio Okapi; South Africa - Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; South African Police Service; South African Press Association; STRATFOR; United Kingdom - Home Office; United Nations - Integrated Regional Information Network, Refworld, ReliefWeb; United States - Department of State; Voice of America.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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