Pretoria - Security guards at the Pretoria Magistrate's
Court had their hands full on Thursday before the appearance of 20 suspected
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) coup plotters.
They tried to limit the number of people attending
The group's number of supporters started swelling outside
Court 16, where the 20 men were set to appear on Thursday morning.
A security guard told the more than 60 supporters there was
not enough room for all of them in court. The guard said only 15 would be
Swearing and shouting followed.
"Your President [Jacob] Zuma has mining interests in
the DRC, that is why you want to portray us as rebels to please [DRC President
Joseph] Kabila," a woman shouted.
One of those trying to get into the court, Phillip Kaja from
Lubumbashi, said his brother was one of the arrested men.
"How can they deny us access to hear the fate of our
people? The arrested men are not rebels, unlike what your [South African]
government wants the world to believe," he said.
Armed members of the police’s tactical response team arrived
at the scene and escorted the group out of the court into the adjacent Francis
The supporters sang and chanted slogans in native DRC
languages, including Lingala, Tchiluba, and Kikongo. Some waved flags and
Some of the placards read: "You [South Africa] are
friends with Joseph Kabila because of gold and diamonds" and "Change
your foreign policy".
The 20 men are accused of preparing to receive military
training to topple Kabila.
Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams previously told the court the men
were members of Nationalists for the Renewal of the DRC.
The plot's alleged ring-leader Etienne Kabila Taratibu, was
arrested in Cape Town on 8 February. His 19 co-accused were arrested during a
pre-dawn raid in Limpopo.
Kabila Taratibu claimed to be Kabila’s half-brother.
The matter was postponed to 27 February to give all the
accused an opportunity to make formal bail applications.