Members of the Green Eagles Football Club recently assaulted Zambian journalist Evans Liyali. (Photo: Evans Liyali)

Zambian journalist Evans Liyali assaulted by soccer players, team employees

Lusaka, January 18, 2023 — Zambian authorities should thoroughly investigate the recent assault of journalist Evans Liyali and ensure that members of the press can work safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On January 14, members of the Green Eagles Football Club attacked Liyali, a sports reporter for the privately owned broadcaster Byta FM Radio, after he photographed some of the team’s players in the town of Mazabuka, according to media reports, a statement by the Zambian chapter of the regional press freedom group Media Institute of Southern Africa, and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Two players ordered Liyali to stop photographing them near the team’s bus and kicked and shoved him, the journalist told CPJ. Later, during the game’s halftime, the team’s deputy manager and bus driver grabbed Liyali’s camera while he photographed the team in the parking lot, knocking the device to the ground and breaking it, he said.

“Zambian police should thoroughly investigate the recent assault of Byta FM sports journalist Evans Liyali and ensure that those responsible are held to account,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “The unprovoked attack on a journalist doing this job photographing Green Eagles Football Club players in a public area should not be condoned, and those responsible should be prosecuted.”

One of the players kicked Liyali in the leg, the journalist told CPJ, saying he was in “so much pain” that he went to a hospital after the incident and also filed a police report. Medical reports issued by the hospital and by police, which CPJ reviewed, show that Liyali received an injury in his right ankle, causing him to limp.

Lyali told CPJ that his camera, which is worth 38,000 Zambian kwacha (US$2,100) does not turn on after it was dropped to the ground.

Police have summoned suspects for questioning, according to Liyali and the media institute’s statement. CPJ sent questions via messaging app to national police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga and his deputy, Danny Mwale, but did not receive any responses.

Mathew Simonje, an acting media officer for the Green Eagles Football Club, told CPJ via phone that the team declined to comment “because everything was published online without allowing us to give our side of the story.”

CPJ repeatedly called and texted Green Eagles manager Richard Chanda for comment, but did not receive any replies.