Sonia Rolley’s excitement to cover the anti-Kabila protests in the capital Kinshasa on Monday was cut short after DRC police arrested her and an Agence France Presse (AFP) photographer and took them into custody.
“We were detained for five hours and ill-treated for unknown reasons,” she said in French on her Twitter account, @soniarolley.
Rolley, who is based permanently in Kinshasa, works as a foreign correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI), www.rfi.fr. She was tweeting step by step about the confrontation between security forces and protestors along the Triomphal Boulevard, and preparing her 12pm news bulleting when the police pounced on her and her colleague.
Local media reports said government spokesperson Lambert Mende confirmed Rolley’s arrest on Top Congo FM, but said they would be released ‘as soon as possible’.
The foreign correspondent tweeted after their ordeal: “I have been released, you can get in touch with me on my Airtel number or on Whatssup. I’m delivering my report and I’ll explain later.”
The RFI management has since protested the journalists’ arrest through a statement posted on the news outlet website, seeking clarity about what it calls an unacceptable incident.
The DRC government has often accused RFI of embarking on an anti-government media campaign, which it says aims at intoxicating the population and giving a bad image of the regime abroad.
The same day, security forces (DEMIAP) have also arrested two Congolese journalists working for RFO-AITV and took them into custody for questioning. The arrest was confirmed by ACAJ, an NGO. It remains ucnlear if they are still in detention, as DEMIAP does not allow anyone to visit its ‘prisoners’.
An anti-Kabila protest march called by the radical opposition was violently repressed by the police and the Presidential Guard, who shot dead at least 14 protestors and injured over 500.
The opposition, who initially put the death toll at 50, now claims that Kabila and his killing machine have knocked down over 100 and wounded 1 000.