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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Crossborder trucker brutally killed by copper thieves

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Warning – Article contains graphic details which some readers may find upsetting

A crossborder truck driver transporting copper from the DRC was brutally murdered during a robbery in Haut Katanga, this past week, reports Freight News.

The driver who was driving a Tanzanian-registered truck, was apparently stopped somewhere in the capital of Haut Katanga on his way south-east towards the DRC’s border with Zambia.

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According to sources, he had “loaded in Kolwezi before getting stopped in Lubumbashi”.

His assailants then reportedly killed him and put him in a bag.

His vehicle was taken to a truck stop where they started transhipping the copper.

Apart from photographic footage showing how the cathodes are taken off the back of the murdered trucker’s rig, graphic video material also shows the retrieval of the driver’s body.

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He was wrapped in a plastic bag and dragged into thicket near the scene of the violent hijacking.

His head, wrapped in a separate piece of blood-soaked plastic, had suffered a major skull fracture.

The brutal killing of the truck driver once again highlights the urgency with which crossborder driver safety in the most criminally violent section of the Copperbelt should be addressed – perhaps through international intervention.

Read | 5 Zimbabwean truck drivers missing in DRC

Not for the first time this year has something like this happened – a driver losing his life to vicious thugs on the N39/N1 route connecting the ore-rich mining area around Kolwezi with the DRC’s Copperbelt border into Zambia.

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Earlier this year the main border crossing in this region, Kasumbalesa, was closed by drivers demanding that something be done about their safety.

They also vented anger at authorities about the routinely congested transit, forcing drivers to camp out in their cabins in an environment known for armed robbers preying on trucks overnighting in the queue.

When drivers in early October insisted on seeing DRC authorities about their safety, often compromised by law enforcers bribing them by using officially issued arms, the powers that be in Kinshasa dillydallied.

Eventual assurances that security patrol cars would be made available for trucks serving Copperbelt interests in the DRC, also seem to have been in vain.

Despite years of sporadic attacks and fatalities on the road to Kolwezi and back, it doesn’t appear that transporters are allowed to make provision for their own security once in the DRC.

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