Zambia and France have jointly issued an arrest warrant for popular Congolese rhumba star Koffi Olomide over multiple criminal charges against him in both the southern African country and France.
The rhumba musician—real name Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba—was expected to hold two shows in the Zambian capital Lusaka and that country’s second largest city, Kitwe, on July 27 and 28, respectively, according to Zambia’s Lusaka Times.
Media reports from the neighbouring country say the arrest order came after the Zambian government had earlier barred Olomide from entering the country for allegedly assaulting a photojournalist during his 2013 tour of Zambia.
The rhumba star is said to have dodged a looming police arrest by smartly sneaking across the border into his native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to Lusaka Times French Ambassador to Zambia Sylvain Berger on Saturday asked Zambian authorities to arrest the rhumba maestro on various crimes allegedly committed in France, including sexually harassing his dancers, kidnapping them and employing them without valid permits.
An apology from the 62-year-old ‘bad boy’ has since purportedly been issued in the Zambian media ahead of the now-cancelled visit. While ignoring the specific allegations levelled against him, Olomide claimed he loves Zambian women, adding that Zambia was his “second home” and that he would like to perform in the country before “I die”.
This is not the first time Olomide, fondly called Mapao by his fans, has courted controversy in foreign countries. In 2016 he was unceremoniously deported from Kenya to DRC after a CCTV camera captured him kicking one of his female dancers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. He apologised to Kenyans for his behaviour.
The East African newspaper says in August 2012 the singer was allegedly involved in a fracas at a hotel in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, after assaulting his producer.
He was jailed for three months, commuted down from 18 months on President Joseph Kabila’s intervention. He was, however, released on bail after five days.
Meanwhile, head of the Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) Beauty Katebe told www.lusaka times.com that Olomide must first be cleared of all the charges levelled against him before he can perform on the Zambian soil.
She said: “It is sad to note that Olomide’s illustrious music career has been marred by allegations of human rights violations and abuses, especially of women, who are in his care by virtue of employment.
“We watched footage of the unfortunate incident in Kenya, which resulted in his temporal ban from performing in Zambia and many other countries.”