Journalist murdered in Democratic Republic of Congo

New York, June 22, 2011–Authorities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Kirumba must thoroughly investigate the murder of radio journalist Witness-Patchelly Kambale Musonia, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The reporter’s bullet-ridden body was discovered early this morning in Congo’s North Kivu province.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead Musonia, 32, host of a daily talk show program on community station Radio Communautaire de Lubero Sud, as he walked home around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to local press freedom group Journaliste En Danger. Witnesses who heard gunshots reported that the gunmen appeared to have been waiting for Musonia as he walked home from his office at Congo Chine Télécoms, where he also worked as a local communications officer, station director Jean Maliro told CPJ.

The motive of the murder was not immediately clear and Masonia had not reported any threats, according to Maliro. No arrests have been made, according to local journalists, and CPJ is investigating whether Musonia’s murder was related to his journalism.

“We condemn the murder of Witness-Patchelly Kambale Musonia,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “Authorities in Kirumba must conduct thorough, transparent, and credible investigations that will address all the unanswered questions about the motive of this dastardly act.”

Musonia, a father of a 7-month-old infant, had been working at RCLS since 2008, according to Maliro. In his last show, titled “Wake Up Kirumba,” Musonia had discussed with his guest, a local civil society leader, the recent arrest of a dozen people accused of trafficking military weapons for criminal activity, according to Maliro.

Musonia is the second member of the press gunned down this year: Radio technician Hardy Kazadi Ilunga was killed in March, according to CPJ research. Local authorities in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have consistently failed to investigate and prosecute journalists’ murders, according to CPJ research.