A journalist in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was shot dead on Wednesday past midnight in the central city of Mbuji Mayi, local and international media reported.
Witnesses cited by Agence France-Presse said Marcel Lubala, who was working for RTNC, the country’s public broadcaster, was hit with two bullets – each in the neck and chest – by unknown gunmen as he slept in his house.
RTNC provincial director Guy Robert Mulopu has condemned Lubala’s killing and urged the authorities to investigate his murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.
However, given the climate of impunity and lawlessness that reign in this conflict-torn Central African nation, many observers fear that the killers might get away – once again – with murder.
“This is the sixteenth journalist killed in the DRC in 10 years and too often the perpetrators and sponsors are never punished,” Kasonga Tshilunde, Union Nationale pour la Presse Congolaise (UNPC) president, told UN-funded Radio Okapi.
Speculation in rife in the DRC that most of the media killings may have been sponsored by ruling politicians offended by media criticism of the regime’s policies and abuse of power.
Critical journalists – local and foreign – in the DRC are currently operating in a hostile environment as President Joseph Kabila sent a clear message to the world that he would not step down at the end of his constitutional term that ends in December 19.
DRC media watchdog Journalist en Danger (JED) said in its 2016 report that at least 87 incidents of media freedom violations nationwide were registered throughout the year. Incidents include harassment, illegal detention, destruction of property, beating, and torture by security forces, JED SG Tshivis Tshivuadi said.
Two journalists working for private radio RTMA in the city of Kalemie were recently arrested for airing an interview of Kabila rival, Moise Katumbi, the TP Mazembe chairman. In the interview, Katumbi was urging fans to go to the stadium in numbers to support the team.
Though the interview was not politically linked, the Agence Nationale des Renseignements (ANR, intelligence services) said it should not have been broadcast in the first place.
Gaston Mushid and Carton Kasong spent one day in the ANR private cells without food and family and lawyers’ visit, and released the next day without charge.
Photo: Journalists in the DRC face hostile working conditions as President Kabila holds on to power. credit. John Bompengo/Radio Okapi