Malawian journalist assaulted during radio interview

Nairobi, January 7, 2013Malawian authorities must immediately investigate the reported assault of a radio journalist who said he was punched by a business leader angered by an interview question.

“It’s outrageous that someone would assault a reporter because he objected to being asked a question,” CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said. “We call on authorities to take prompt action and demonstrate that no one has the right to physically attack a reporter.”

Anthony Masamba, bureau chief of the Malawi Institute of Journalism Radio, told CPJ that he was assaulted in Lilongwe on Saturday by Chancellor Kaferapanjira, head of the Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), during an interview for “Melting Pot,” a new program for the radio station. The MCCCI is a partnership of enterprises and associations representing all sectors of the economy in the country.

Masamba told CPJ that he asked Kaferapanjira questions about recent news reports that said the government had already overspent its budget and that protests were being planned this month by John Kapito, head of the Consumer Association of Malawi. The demonstrations are intended to highlight the rising cost of basic commodities due to new government reforms. Masamba said that Kaferapanjira stopped the interview, accused him of being a Kapito supporter, grabbed the recorder, and began punching him in the face, news reports said.

Masamba said he sought treatment for a dislocated jaw at a local hospital. He said his recorder was broken in the attack, but that his memory card was not damaged so he hoped to still be able to broadcast the interview.

Steven Chilundu, a reporter for local radio station Capital Radio, told CPJ he had accompanied Masamba to the interview and had seen Kaferapanjira assault Masamba. Masamba said he reported the attack to the local police, who promised to investigate the case.

Kaferapanjira denied hitting Masanba and told CPJ Masamba was supported by unspecified politicians. 

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