Mnangagwa in quandary as DRC issues arrest warrant for Kabila’s general holed in Zimbabwe

General John Numbi

HARARE – The Democratic Republic of Congo has issued an arrest warrant against an army general under the government of former President, Joseph Kabila who has reportedly fled to Zimbabwe.

Prosecutors in Kinshasa want General John Numbi extradited to face justice on his alleged role in the murder of a high profile human rights activist in June 2010.

Prosecutors in Kinshasa say they have launched an investigation into the General over the high-profile murder of Floribert Chebeya.

General Numbi was the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police at the time of the murder of the activist.

He was in 2018 appointed as the Inspector General of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).

General Numbi is suspected of orchestrating the killing of Chebeya, whose body was found in his car on the outskirts of capital city Kinshasa.

The day before the murder, Chebeya, the head of the Voice for the Voiceless group, had been called to a police station, supposedly to meet General Numbi.

Five police officers have already been convicted for the murder, three of them in absentia.

Two police officers, now living in exile in east Africa, said they took part in Chebeya’s murder, and claim General Numbi had ordered them to take out the human rights activist.

General Numbi who was suspended shortly after Chebeya’s murder, was placed under US and European sanctions in 2016, for a police crackdown on protests in the region of Bas Congo.

He was sidelined from FARDC in July last year during a major reshuffle by President Felix Tshisekedi after he reportedly refused to leave his base in Katanga, his stronghold, where he felt much safer than in Kinshasa.

The General 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.

According to several sources, General Numbi has fled to Zimbabwe although authorities in Harare say they are not aware of his presence in the southern African country.

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.

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 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. – Business Times