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Kabila's general flees to Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter
25 Mar 2021 at 16:09hrs | Views
An army general under the government of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) former President Joseph Kabila has fled to Zimbabwe, according to reports from the mineral-rich country.

This comes as tension boils in the DRC following the fallout of the ruling coalition made up of political parties led by Kabila and President Félix Tshisekedi.

The 59-year old General John Numbi is implicated in the 2010 assassination of a prominent Congolese human rights activist in Kinshasa.

The Zimbabwe government professed ignorance when asked to confirm whether or not the general was in the country.

"I have no idea. I am hearing it for the first time," Home Affairs Minister Kazembe told Business Times last night.

"These are operational issues that I believe our police would be informed by Interpol should the need arise. You may want to check with the police spokesperson in case he is aware but I am not aware."

Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also professed ignorance saying: "I am not even aware of this. You are the first person to tell me that."

But reports quoting the President of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice, Georges Kapiamba said General Numbi, a once feared man, fled to Zimbabwe two weeks ago.

His security officer, Lunda wa Ngoie, has been arrested.

"General Numbi fled, knowing that justice was going to get its hands on him," Kapiamba said.

General Numbi is implicated in the murder of Floribert Chebeya, who was regarded as a leading Congolese human rights activist.

The slain human rights activist was at one time hailed by the United Nations as "a champion of human rights" and his death led to calls for an investigation from more than 50 organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, a number of countries and several senior UN officials, including then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Throughout his life Chebeya denounced several governments including the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, his successor Laurent-Désiré Kabila and Joseph Kabila.

The background to Chebeya's death suggests that he had been asked to meet   DRC's national police chief General Numbi on June 1, 2010.

It is unknown if this meeting occurred.

Chebeya texted his wife to inform her he had arrived at police HQ in Kinshasa for the meeting but that was the last contact he had with the outside world.

He was later found dead by passers-by in the backseat of his car in a suburb of Kinshasa, with some clothes removed.

His driver had disappeared.

Female hair and condoms were discovered alongside him in the car.

His trousers were unzipped.

No blood or bullet holes were found. However, Chebeya had blood in several orifices.

From January 2010, General Numbi was the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police and in 2018 he was appointed as the Inspector General of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).

He was sidelined from FARDC in July last year during a major reshuffle by Tshisekedi.

The General had reportedly refused to leave his base in Katanga, his stronghold, where he felt much safer than in Kinshasa.

 He reportedly exerted strong influence on the military and youth groups in the mineral-rich region.

Details from the DRC also suggest that about 1,800 soldiers were deployed to Katanga, where he was living on a farm in Lubumbashi after he lost his army post last July.

He was close to Kabila and had been under American, European Union and UN sanctions since 2016.

In February, Chebeya's wife, Annie, appeared in an interview with Radio France Internationale demanding justice.

She accused two big names including former Inspector General of Police and former President Kabila saying they are ultimately responsible for the assassination of her husband.

Two police officers, who are currently exiled in an East African country, gave testimonies in which they admitted to taking part in the murder of Chebeya and another person only identified as Bazana. They claim that the double murder of June 1, 2010 was carried out under General Numbi's orders.

The reported fleeing of the general coincides with the mysterious arrest in the DRC of Alexander Zingman, a businessman and Zimbabwe's honorary consul to Belarus.

Zingman was arrested by Congolese police in Lubumbashi on Wednesday after reportedly meeting with Kabila.

 A source close to the administration of Tshisekedi has been quoted confirming Zingman's arrest saying after reportedly meeting Kabila, Zingman flew from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi, where he was questioned by police about his business in the DRC. The source said he could not explain what he was doing in the DRC.

A company linked to Zingman, AF TRADE MMCC in Belarus, has expressed concern about his fate saying: "We are extremely concerned about the wellbeing of Alexander Zingman, Oleg Vodchits, and Paolo Persico who were detained on Thursday, March 18 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite numerous attempts by the family, AF TRADE as well as the US and Zimbabwean consulates inquiring about their welfare, there has been no sign of life for over three days. No arrest warrant or reason for their apprehension has been provided either."

The statement added; "Given the instability and insecurity in the country [Italy's ambassador to the DRC, Luca Attanasio, was killed in late February after his car was attacked while travelling in a UN convoy in the eastern part of the country], we urge the international community to demand the immediate release of these three businessmen."

Zingman holds dual US and Belarus citizenship.

meeting but that was the last contact he had with the outside world.

He was later found dead by passers-by in the backseat of his car in a suburb of Kinshasa, with some clothes removed. His driver had disappeared.

Female hair and condoms were discovered alongside him in the car. His trousers were unzipped. No blood or bullet holes were found. However, Chebeya had blood in several orifices.

From January 2010, General Numbi was the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police and in 2018 he was appointed as the Inspector General of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).

He was sidelined from FARDC in July last year during a major reshuffle by Tshisekedi.

The General had reportedly refused to leave his base in Katanga, his stronghold, where he felt much safer than in Kinshasa. He reportedly exerted strong influence on the military and youth groups in the mineral-rich region.

Details from the DRC also suggest that about 1,800 soldiers were deployed to Katanga, where he was living on a farm in Lubumbashi after he lost his army post last July.

He was close to Kabila and had been under American, European Union and UN sanctions since 2016.

In February, Chebeya's wife, Annie, appeared in an interview with Radio France Internationale demanding justice.

She accused two big names including former Inspector General of Police and former President Kabila saying they are ultimately responsible for the assassination of her husband.

Two police officers, who are currently exiled in an East African country, gave testimonies in which they admitted to taking part in the murder of Chebeya and another person only identified as Bazana. They claim that the double murder of June 1, 2010 was carried out under General Numbi's orders.

The reported fleeing of the general coincides with the mysterious arrest in the DRC of Alexander Zingman, a businessman and Zimbabwe's honorary consul to Belarus.

Zingman was arrested by Congolese police in Lubumbashi on Wednesday after reportedly meeting with Kabila.

A source close to the administration of Tshisekedi has been quoted confirming Zingman's arrest saying after reportedly meeting Kabila, Zingman flew from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi, where he was questioned by police about his business in the DRC. The source said he could not explain what he was doing in the DRC.

A company linked to Zingman, AF TRADE MMCC in Belarus, has expressed concern about his fate saying: "We are extremely concerned about the wellbeing of Alexander Zingman, Oleg Vodchits, and Paolo Persico who were detained on Thursday, March 18 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite numerous attempts by the family, AF TRADE as well as the US and Zimbabwean consulates inquiring about their welfare, there has been no sign of life for over three days. No arrest warrant or reason for their apprehension has been provided either."

The statement added; "Given the instability and insecurity in the country [Italy's ambassador to the DRC, Luca Attanasio, was killed in late February after his car was attacked while travelling in a UN convoy in the eastern part of the country], we urge the international community to demand the immediate release of these three businessmen."

Source - businesstimes

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