Francine Bitshi, a TV reporter for Kinshasa-based RTVS1 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is in critical condition after protesting INBTP students severely beat her up and physically assaulted her early this week.
As a result of this savage beating, the journalist – who was assigned to film the event and report on it – has one broken tooth and is still unconscious five days after being admitted in the ICU, reports from the DRC capital said.
Students, who were apparently protesting against the rising study fees, poor living conditions and President Joseph Kabila’s intention to hold on to power beyond 2016, had targeted lecturers and the institution’s administrators.
“It is indeed unusual for INBTP students to barricade the premises of their institution so that their message of protest does not come out, and paradoxically target a media professional, whose mission was precisely to inform the world,” OMEC, the Congolese Media Obsevatory, said in a statement on Friday.
Now, OMEC, the country’s civil society groups and other media fraternities such as Journalist in Danger (JED) are urging the authorities to flush out the authors of this barbaric act and punish them accordingly.
Journalists were said to organise marches across this mineral-rich Central African nation to protest the beating of their colleague.
DRC journalists – already underpaid and overworked – are facing all sorts of violence and intimidation, including death, torture and imprisonment, from the government and the much-feared ANR (intelligence services agency), as well as the regime’s political allies, the corrupt business people and other mediaphobes.
Speculation is now rife that the government might have sent criminal gangs to infiltrate the protesters in a view of deliberately targeting journalists who were covering the event.
Photo: DRC journalist Francine Bitshi lies unconscious after being beaten up by protesting students.