Another truck driver shot dead at the Kasumbalesa

Kasumbalesa border post
Kasumbalesa border post

RELATIONS between Zambia and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are teetering on a knife-edge following the shooting in cold blood of yet another truck driver bringing the number of those killed in such circumstances to five in recent months.
The latest shooting of the Zimbabwean truck driver at the Kasumbalesa border post comes on the back of the killing of a Zambian driver last week.
Business came to a partial standstill at Kasumbalesa yesterday when people rioted after learning of the killing of the truck driver who was shot dead near Minestone housing area on the Zambian side of the border with the DRC.
Joseph Mwachende, 53, was shot twice in the stomach by a suspected Congolese around 05:00 hours yesterday.
Copperbelt Province Minister Mwenya Musenge confirmed the incident in an interview from Ndola.
Mr Musenge said Mwachende was shot dead in his truck and concerned members of the public who rushed to the vehicle after they heard the gun shots found him dead.
“This is purely a criminal matter and police are investigating the matter,” the minister said.
He said the shooter fled the scene and the body of the deceased is lying in the Chililabombwe’s Kakoso Clinic mortuary.
Mr Musenge described the shooting of another truck driver within days as “very unfortunate”.
He said security at the border is of deep concern for the truck drivers and residents.
“During our meeting with the truck drivers, they raised the issue of security and we are going to ensure that it is addressed,” he said.
Mr Musenge said some Congolese are in a habit of coming into Zambia early in the morning to trade and criminals take advantage of this to attack innocent people.
He appealed to all truck drivers and Zambians to remain calm and give the police time to investigate the matter and possibly arrest the culprit.
After word went round that another driver had been killed barely a week after Patrick Mwila was shot dead, irate people burnt tyres and logs on the road, blocking traffic.
They also chased Congolese traders from the Zambian side of the border.
Some shops at Kasumbalesa market were also looted.
But quick action by the police in riot gear restored some semblance of order.
There was a heavy presence of police at the border to calm the situation.
Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said the victim was driving a Mercedes Benz truck registration number XKT 039 belonging to a South African Company called Bitwell truckers.
“The incident happened today [yesterday] between 05:00 and 06:00 hours between Petroda Filling Station and Minestone Market in Kasumbalesa.
“Two gunshots were heard from the truck and when people rushed there, they found that the driver had been shot through the stomach by an unknown person in the cabin of the truck,” Ms Chanda said.
“By then the engine of the vehicle was running as it was queuing for entry into Congo from the Zambian side. Two empty cartridges were found at the scene,” she said.
Ms Chanda said people started rioting after word went round that the driver had been shot at by a Congolese.
“As police, we have instituted investigations into the matter to ascertain who could have been behind the shooting.
“Right now, officers have been deployed at Kasumbalesa with reinforcement from other districts and the situation is currently under control,” she said.