Reporters Without Borders is dismayed and angered by yesterday’s murder of Bruno Koko Chirambiza, a news presenter for a local, privately-owned radio station in Bukavu, the capital of the eastern province of Sud-Kivu. He was the third radio journalist to be murdered in Bukavu in the past two years, following Didace Namujimbo on 21 November 2008 and Serge Maheshe on 13 June 2007. Both Namujimbo and Maheshe worked for UN-run Radio Okapi.
“We are deeply saddened by this new tragedy, which we fear could terrorise journalists in Bukavu and discourage them from working,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists in Democratic Republic of Congo and especially in Kivu is outrageous and is responsible for this latest recurrence. Those responsible must be found and brought to justice.”
Chirambiza, 24, presented a Swahili-language programme on Radio Star, a station that only reaches the Bukavu area. He was attacked by eight men and fatally stabbed twice in the chest in the early hours of yesterday in the Bukavu suburb of Kadutu, as he was returning with a friend from a wedding at which he had acted as master of ceremonies. He died after being rushed to the main Bukavu hospital.
Communication and media minister Lambert Mende said he was “appalled” by Chirambiza’s murder.
The circumstances of Chirambiza’s death suggest he was targeted. Only he was attacked and stabbed. The friend who was with him was only punched once. Chirambiza’s money, mobile phone and tape-recorder were not taken. The motive for his murder is still unclear and so far nothing suggests that he was killed in connection with his work as a journalist.
Radio Star owner Pierre Pay Pay, who is also an opposition parliamentarian, said: “We are in the process of seeing whether he recently presented programmes about the army’s ongoing operations.”
In a report last March entitled “Bukavu, murder city,” Reporters Without Borders urged the Congolese government to set up a special judicial commission to investigate the murders of journalists and human rights activists in Bukavu.
The report referred to the city as a “dangerous and unstable place where nothing goes to plan,” and added that, “the sprawling Kadutu slum is a breeding ground for hired killers that is difficult to control.”
- Picture : Bukavu (RSF)