Frenchman dies in Congolese mining town
The dealer of precious stones died after being detained for having invalid papers, says diplomat.13 May 2008
LUBUMBASHI - A French dealer of precious stones has died in a Congolese mining town after being detained for having invalid papers, a diplomatic source said Friday.
The man, in his 50s, was arrested on Wednesday by the Congolese authorities in Lubumbashi, the capital of the southeastern province of Katanga for overstaying his visa.
"He spent one night in the ANR (national information agency) buildings while the authorities tried to verify his identity as he did not have a passport with him," a diplomatic source in Lubumbashi said.
"He was visibly tired and became ill (around midday on Thursday). He was driven to a hospital where he died shortly after arrival at 1300 GMT," the source said.
A doctor at the hospital where the man was taken said he was already dead on arrival and had died during the transfer.
"He was suffering from diarrhoea and diabetes," said the doctor, adding that his body had been moved on Friday to the hospital morgue.
The Frenchman arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007, working for a Chinese mining firm, before moving on to trade with local Congolese dealers and eventually branching out on his own.
"He had complained that he had no more money and that his visa expired in September," the diplomatic source in Lubumbashi said on condition of anonymity.
Foreigners, most of them of Chinese or Indian origin, are regularly arrested in Katanga and expelled for having illegal status. Many people are thought to work illegally in the Democratic Republic of Congo's booming mining industry.
Katanga has a vast wealth of copper and cobalt reserves, as well as a substantial number of gold and uranium mines.
Hundreds of mining firms and businesses operate there, from international giants like US company Freeport-McMoRan to dealers trying to make a quick buck from small-time miners.
[AFP / Expatica]