On June 21, 2021 at least 10 armed men, some of whom wore military uniforms, forced their way into the home of Daniel Michombero, a freelance reporter based in the DRC’s eastern Goma city, by breaking the windows of his doors, according to the journalist, who spoke with CPJ over the phone and messaging app and reports by the privately owned local news site Libre Grand Lacs and French language broadcaster TV5 Monde, which covered the incident in a broadcast posted to Facebook.
Michombero said that as the men entered he ran onto the roof of his home and began making noise to alert his neighbors; the men then aggressively questioned his wife about his whereabouts, threatened to kill him, and took a bag containing his camera, microphones, headphones, a recorder, two cell phones, a laptop, a hard drive, a tripod, and lighting equipment. The men also attacked his wife, who was holding their child, according to Michombero and Libre Grand Lacs. The men struck her in the head, arm, and hip with a knife, he added. The journalist said the attack lasted less than 20 minutes and the men left without finding him.
According to the journalist and the same media report, the police only arrived the next day to review the damage. Michombero said that he had also filed a complaint about the attack with the local police on June 22, but told CPJ on September 21 that he still had not received any response.
Michombero said that the attack may have been in response to his reporting on the recent Nyiragongo volcano eruption north of Goma, which he covered for various outlets, including the U.S. Congress-funded Voice of America, the Africanews website, and TV5 Monde, which posted the broadcasts on its Facebook page. The coverage detailed how people had not been warned about the eruption, the humanitarian crises facing those affected, and those peoples’ sense of abandonment by authorities, according to CPJ’s review.
“You talk too much in your reports, you don’t need your life anymore? It’s over today. Talk again. We’ll take whatever you use to disturb people. Give us your materials quickly and if you continue we will kill you,” Michombero recalled the men shouting as they searched the home.
Michombero said that during the attack the men also destroyed his television and damaged a table. CPJ reviewed images of the damage to the TV and the table provided by the journalist.
The journalist told CPJ that he had only been able to work a bit since the attack by borrowing equipment.
CPJ’s requests for comment sent by text to Abdu Bikulu, the civil chief of the Kyeshero neighborhood where Michombero lives and to whom the journalist reported the attack, went unanswered. Questions sent via messaging app to Job Alisa, the urban commander of the Congolese National Police in Goma also went unanswered. CPJ also wrote another officer via messaging app who surveyed the damage to Michombero’s home the morning of the attack and whose contact information the journalist shared with CPJ, but the officer did not respond.Reached by phone, Guillaume Njike Kaiko, a spokesperson for the military in the area, told CPJ that he was not aware of the incident and that Michombero should contact him about what happened.
In mid-August 2021, three unidentified assailants killed Joël Mumbere Musavuli, director of the privately owned broadcaster Radio Télévision Communautaire Babombi, in his home in Bucha-Kenya village in the DRC’s northeastern Ituri province, according to CPJ research at the time. Months earlier, in May, armed men entered the home of journalist Parfait Katoto in Biakato town, also in Ituri province, and threatened to kill him, CPJ documented.
Editor’s note: The 10th paragraph has been updated to correct Abdu Bikulu’s position and to provide further detail on the roles of the police officers CPJ contacted.