SA formally charges DRC coup plotters

2013-02-07 13:58
A supporter wrapped in a DRC flag stands outside the court in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP)

A supporter wrapped in a DRC flag stands outside the court in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP)

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Johannesburg - A South African court on Thursday formally charged 19 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebels with plotting to stage a coup in their home country.

The group is accused of preparing to receive military training to topple President Joseph Kabila and was subject to a special police sting operation.

"They intended on unseating President Kabila unconstitutionally," government prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told the Pretoria Regional Court.

Abrahams said they are members of the Union of Nationalists for the Renewal (UNR) of the DRC.

The would-be putschists were not asked to enter pleas and were ordered to return to court on 14 February.

The case was also adjourned to allow investigators to verify their identities and for the suspects to engage lawyers.

The group was arrested on Tuesday in a pre-dawn raid in a remote part of South Africa's northern and vast province of Limpopo.

Undercover state agent

South African elite police received a tip-off about the presence of the group in the country in September last year and infiltrated it.

The police "received credible information about a coup and that there were rebels in South Africa to get military assistance", said Abrahams.

An undercover state agent met a member of the group who had "confirmed that they belong to UNR and intended to overthrow the J Kabila government".

He said they "required large quantity of arms and ammunition and specialised military training", said Abrahams.

They also promised to "pay mercenaries with mining concessions".

An exchange of emails showed a wish list of equipment and services the rebels wanted. These included satellite phones, assault rifles, missiles, radios and military training.

The training was intended to pass as anti-poaching training for game rangers.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  sa  |  southern africa  |  central africa

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