Kinshasa, Congo (NTN24 Wires) – A Congolese driver with the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) was arrested overnight while trying to sneak more than a tonne of cassiterite over the Rwandan border, officials said Monday.
“The security services at the DRC-Rwandan border, at the level of the main roadblock in the town of Goma, stopped a jeep,” said a statement from the provincial minister of mines in Nord-Kivu, Kubuya Ndoole.
The vehicle was driven by UN employee “Julien Mukala (who was) illegally transporting 1,200 kilogrammes of cassiterite and wanted to cross the border,” Ndoole added.
North Kivu’s governor Julien Paluku told he went to the scene of the arrest and that an inquiry had been opened to get to the bottom of the affair and find out who was responsible.
No MONUSCO staff could immediately be reached for contact. A UN force, currently consisting of some 22,000 troops and civilians, has been present to promote a peace process and stability in the vast, mineral-rich country since two successive wars ravaged the DR Congo between 1996 and 2003.
Cassiterite, like coltan, is found in the Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu and Maniema provinces of the east, where rebel forces, local militias and the army are frequently accused of exploiting the mines. Both minerals are widely used in making electronic equipment.
On August 3, an army spokesman announced the arrest, also in Goma, of Colonel Balumisa Chuma, the commander of the Walikale sector, while he was illegally transporting ten tonnes of cassiterite from neighbouring south Kivu.
A dozen soldiers were detained with Chuma.