Malawi police
Police officers stand in a line during a demonstration in Lilongwe, Malawi, on November 26, 2021. Officers seized the phone of Zodiak Broadcasting Station reporter Raphael Mlozoa while he was photographing an anti-government demonstration on November 30, 2023, and deleted his photos, according to news reports. (Photo: AFP/Amos Gumulira)

Malawi police seize ZBS reporter Raphael Mlozoa’s phone, delete photos of officers’ conduct

Lusaka, December 7, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Malawi Police Service to investigate and hold accountable officers who forcibly deleted photographs from the mobile phone of Raphael Mlozoa, a reporter at privately owned broadcaster Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), during a demonstration in the Mangochi district on November 30.

Mlozoa had been assigned to cover an anti-government demonstration by a group calling itself Malawi First in the Mangochi district, about 150 miles southeast of the capital, Lilongwe, Gabriel Kamlomo, ZBS’ director of news and current affairs, told CPJ.

Police officers stopped Mlozoa as he photographed them arresting a demonstrator, seized the journalist’s phone, and deleted his photographs of the incident before returning his device, according to a news report and a statement by the Malawi chapter of regional press freedom group, Media Institute of Southern Africa.

“Authorities should hold accountable the Malawi police officers who forcibly deleted the photos of police conduct from journalist Raphael Mlozoa’s phone and ensure that such blunt censorship never happens again,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, in Nairobi. “Journalists in Malawi should be permitted to cover demonstrations and other events of public interest without fear of harassment or intimidation.”

Kamlomo told CPJ that ZBS filed a police complaint about the officer’s conduct toward Mlozoa.

CPJ’s calls and questions sent via messaging app to Malawi police spokesperson Peter Kalaya and Mangochi Police Station publicist Amina Tepani Daud received no response.