South Africa Arrests Congolese Prophet Over Lethal Clashes

South African police today arrested a man who calls himself a religious prophet for his role in lethal clashes in Democratic Republic of Congo in December, his lawyer said.

Former Congolese presidential candidate Joseph Mukungubila was arrested under an Interpol warrant from Congo, where he faces charges of murder, aggravated assault, arbitrary detention and malicious destruction, Ashraf Essop said in a phone interview from Johannesburg, where Mukungubila was captured.

“The crimes that my client is alleged to have committed are the crimes he has fled,” Essop said.

Congo issued the arrest warrant in December after blaming Mukungubila for instigating clashes which the government said left 101 people dead in at least three cities.

State broadcaster Radio Television Nationale Congolaise was forced off the air after armed attackers stormed its headquarters and the airport in the capital, Kinshasa, Information Minister Lambert Mende said at the time. He said 55 people died in Kinshasa, including one army colonel, while in clashes in the southern Katanga province another 46 people died.

Mukungubila previously called himself Prophet of the Lord on a website for his Ministry of Restoration. The attacks were an unplanned “expression of anger,” Mukungubila said at the time.

South Africa granted Mukungubila temporary asylum in January after he fled persecution in Congo, Essop said.

Congo is the biggest source of cobalt, which is used in rechargeable batteries, and the continent’s largest tin producer. The country is the world’s eighth-largest producer of copper. Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG) operate the Kibali gold project, while Glencore Xstrata Plc (GLEN) mines copper in Congo.

South African police spokesman Paul Ramaloko didn’t immediately respond to to calls to his mobile phone and an answerphone message seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Ben Holland, Karl Maier

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