The Zambian law enforcement agencies between 7-10 July, prevented what could have been deadly retaliatory and xenophobic attacks on neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo citizens living in Zambia following the burning to death of a Zambian driver in the bordering Congolese town of Kasumbalesa where he was involved in an accident in which two people were killed.
Although details of the traffic accident and the subsequent events are sketchy, the hapless Zambian driver was pounced upon soon after and was torched in the cabin of his truck which was reduced to ashes. When the story filtered back south of the border, some Zambians in parts of Zambia, notably the capital Lusaka and on the Copperbelt, launched isolated cases of looting and attacks on Congolese traders.
Tumfweko, a citizen media website, opined:
What happened to Derrick Chanda, that humble Zambian truck driver who was burnt to death by some lawless Congolese nationals, is very sad. But this is what happens when lawlessness is allowed to reign over a country. We understand the history of our neighbours in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a history of lawlessness, of impunity. But everything has got a time.
Netizens on various social network and citizen websites reacted differently to the events with some calling for tougher action against the Congolese who rely a lot on goods from Zambia while others called for tolerance.
Writing on Lusaka Times, Kams in Kitwe, stated:
Have known Congolese to be like that since I was born. They are just too bad to be our neighbours. Anyway god stopped creating countries so we just have teach them a lesson too so that it does not continue in the future. I see a lot of truck causing accidents here in Zambia both foreign and local but have never heard of such barbaric acts, the least you could hear is that the vehicle was burnt. Was wondering if this border could just be closed and lets see who will suffer more. Congolese needs Zambia more than we need them thats a fact people. Just three days of closure they are complaining of hunger what of if it was 2 weeks. Lets punish these unprincipled people.
Under the same story, Musonda wrote:
Guys let’s not over reacting, I believe if it was a Congolese truck driver who had killed 2 Zambians mourners heading to the cemetery to bury their loved ones, Zambians would have killed the Congolese truck driver. We have to understand the circumstances that this thing happened. Killing someone is not an excuse and must be condemned. Let’s not forget that there was death on both sides. Zambians and Congolese have traded peacefully for many years and never had any problem despite the installibity in Congo. It is immoral to call someone animal. A civilised person would refrain from making uncivilised comment and allow the law to take it course. The comments made above are no different to the attitude of those who killed our Zambian brother in Congo.
To show that the Zambian Police were on top of the situation, Mwebantu Media reported on the situation in the mining city of Kitwe:
Police in Kitwe on Monday morning fired tear-gas canisters to disperse traders at Chisokone Market who protested against the presence of Congolese traders following the burning to death of a Zambian truck driver at the Kasumbalesa Border Post last week.
The protesting traders destroyed stalls belonging to Congolese nationals in the market
It was hard for a ZNBC News crew to get a clear picture of the situation because of the tear-gas.
Business came to a standstill as stalls were forced to close as the situation became tense.
Traders shouted that they did not want their Congolese counterparts to conduct business at the Market.
Most of the Congolese traders did not show up at the market today.
At the burial of the Zambian victim in the city of Ndola which shares part of its boundary with DRC, the neighboring country’s consular-general, Maloba Kanji announced the arrest of 12 of her nationals who were allegedly involved in the killing:
On behalf of the Congolese government, we would like to convey our condolences to the bereaved family, as well as the Zambian people. We are deeply sorry for what happened as our Constitution does not allow it and we will ensure that justice prevails.
A Southern African Development Community Drivers Association representative said at the same event:
Government must ensure that justice really prevails because even as we are speaking, we are scared of going into the DRC because we are always harassed.
On Twitter, one tweep berated the BBC for not reporting the incident: