Death threats sent to three women journalists in Bukavu

Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep concern about anonymous death threats sent by text to three women journalists in crime-ridden Bukavu, capital of Sud-Kivu province in the east of the country. The journalists, Kadi Adzuba and Delphine Namuto on Radio Okapi and Jolly Kamuntu, of privately-owned Radio Maendeleo were all warned that they would get “a bullet in the head” unless they stopped “meddling in what does not concern you”. “Given the upsurge in vicious attacks and murder of journalists in Bukavu, we consider that these threats should be taken very seriously”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said in a letter to the governor of Sud-Kivu, Louis Léonce Muderhwa Chirimwami. The organisation called on him to provide security for the three journalists and to launch a thorough investigation to find those responsible for the messages and who ordered them. “We are relying on you to get personally involved in this matter. It is absolutely vital that this slaughter is stopped and that it is made clear that attacks against journalists will not continue to go unpunished in Sud-Kivu, particularly in Bukavu”, the organisation added. The three journalists all received a text this week from the number 08 13 753 026. The message in Swahili, received twice by Namuto, read: “Mulisha zoweya mubaya munaanza ingiya mu mambo haibaone ju ya kuonesha kama habawezi bagusa, sasa munataka kufa ako ju munyamanze. Tunapata rusa y kuanzia ako Kadi, kisha Kamuntu kisha Kintu Namuto risasi mu kichwa" (You have got into the bad habit of meddling in what does not concern you to show that you are untouchable, now some of you will die so that you will be shut up. We have just had authorisation to start with Kadi, then Kamuntu then Namuto: a bullet in the head”). Adzuba also received anonymous threatening messages on 5 September. Kamuntu today made an official complaint to the Republic’s Prosecutor General in Bukavu (PGR) and also notified the military authorities in Sud-Kivu, since the threats referred to the likely use of a firearm. Her two colleagues plan to take the same steps. “Kadi, Delphine and Jolly are three respected and hard-working journalists. We do not yet know the precise reason for the threats, but it certainly involves their work as journalists”, said one Bukavu journalist, who asked for anonymity. “Life has become impossible for us. You can no longer do your job as a reporter without being threatened.” Reporters Without Borders’ partner organisation in Congo, Journalist in Danger, yesterday condemned the “crime industry in Bukavu” and urged the PGR to open an investigation and to demand information from the mobile phone company VODACOM. Reporters Without Borders supports this call. Three journalists have been shot dead in Bukavu in the past two years. They were Radio Okapi staff members Serge Maheshe and Didace Namujimbo, killed respectively on 13 June 2007 and 21 November 2008, and Bruno Koko Chirambiza, presenter on privately-owned Radio Star, murdered on 23 August 2009. In a report Reporters Without Borders released last March, “Bukavu, murder city", in which it urged the Congolese government to set up a special judicial commission to investigate the murders of journalists in the city, the organisation also drew the local authorities attention to the recurrence of death threats sent by text. Read Jolly Kamuntu's interview with Le Potentiel (in French)
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Updated on 20.01.2016