DRC shuts down embassy in Pretoria ‘until next year’ after violent protest

South Africans who want to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will not be able to get visas from the country’s Pretoria embassy until next year.

Citizens from that country who live in South Africa and who need new passports will also have to wait.

DRC ambassador to South Africa, Bene M’Poko, on Tuesday said he had closed the embassy until January 4 because he feared for the safety of his staff, after protests in front of the embassy turned violent.

“I closed the embassy because I know what they are planning and I’m a major target. They said they are planning to do what happened in Turkey,” he said.

The Russian ambassador in Ankara was assassinated by a police officer on Monday.

“They want to burn the embassy and they want to kill us,” he said of the protesters. 

“I can’t, under those circumstances, send my people to work. Their lives are dear, I can’t expose them to that.”

M’Poko said the South African police were unable to guarantee their safety and people would not be able to come into the embassy when there were protesters in front of it “threatening to burn and destroy it”.

M’Poko said some of his staff had to come in on Tuesday to issue some visas ahead of the protest, which turned violent and which resulted in Congolese nationals pelting their embassy with rocks and other objects.

“We had to give visas to people planning to travel to the DRC, including some members of the military from South Africa,” he said.

South Africa was expected to send extra troops to the DRC to reinforce the United Nations peacekeeping mission, despite the fact that a South African soldier was killed in the troubled north Kivu in the DRC on Monday. – News24

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