According to the information obtained by RSF, the five journalists – Octave Mukendi, Bruce Landu, Roddy Bosakwa, Dan Luyila and Laurent Omba – were arrested between 5 and 6 a.m. at the offices of AfricaNews, the tri-weekly they work for, and have been held ever since at the headquarters of the national police intelligence department. AfricaNews, which is widely read in the capital, reported on 12 October that the police internal affairs department had begun investigating the alleged misappropriation of food at a police training academy.
“It is unbelievable and very disturbing that the police have arrested journalists who revealed that a police investigation was being conducted into alleged misappropriation,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “These journalists just did their job by informing the public that an investigation was under way. They have no place being detained and must be released at once.”
When reached by RSF, AfricaNews editor Achille Kadima said: “I am in hiding like the ten other journalists and employees who were not at the newspaper this morning.” He said several policemen had previously gone to the newspaper’s offices shortly after the article’s publication. As a result, he had written to the head of the police internal affairs department requesting an investigation to identify those responsible for this “policy of intimidation typical of a bygone era.”
RSF telephoned Gen. Raus Chalwe, the head of the police internal affairs department, to report its concern. RSF also reached Gen. Célestin Kanyama, the officer in charge of police academies in the DRC, who was reportedly questioned in the course of the investigation revealed by AfricaNews. He told RSF he knew nothing of the arrests and that, “they do not fall within my remit.”
The DRC is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.