The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is outraged by the DRC musician Koffi Olomide’s ‘unnecessary’ attack on a Zambian freelance photojournalist at a concert in Lusaka last week Friday, and urges the country’s authorities to meticulously investigate the case.
Zambian’s privately-owned newspaper The Post reported on Monday that renegade artist Olomide kicked Jean ‘Mandela’ Ndayisenga in the face, and damaged the flash of his camera at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel, as the photographer attempted to take a picture of him after the show.
The attack happened in the full view of several photographers. Ndayisenga reported the matter to the police station after getting treatment at a local hospital, the newspaper said. Despite Olomide’s denial that he assaulted anyone, the newspaper quoted the police as saying that the case had been transferred to Lusaka Central Prison for further investigations.
“A photographer should not be subjected to assault while covering a musical performance,” an incensed Tom Rhodes, CPJ East Africa Consultant, said last night. “We urge authorities to investigate this reported attack and bring appropriate charges.”
Ndayisenga told the newspaper that he was surprised that Koffi, an artist of international status, could behave in such a brutal fashion.
The 56-year-old Olomide, real name Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba, has been in trouble with the law time and time again for various offences, including rape, extortion, kidnapping and assault with intent to do grievous bodily damage.
He still has an outstanding court case in France for alleged rape of minors and kidnapping of his female dancers and seizing their passports. He was handed a three-month suspended sentence late last year by a court in Kinshasa for assaulting his producer Diego Music Lubaki and damaging hotel facilities.
The newspaper added: On his previous visit to Zambia two years ago, the musician eluded a police dragnet, and exited the country using a motorcycle following differences with his promoters at the time.
Highly talented and intelligent but dishonest, unprofessional and childish, Olomide has a history of duping his promoters and fellow musicians, and this has culminated to many members of his Quartier Latin band leaving him several times to seek fortune elsewhere.
However, reports from Kinshasa said last night that Olomide, who arrived in Zambia last week to perform three shows, deliberately attacked 44-year-old Ndayisenga because he was a Rwandan.
Mandela, a Rwandan refugee in Zambia, survives by taking photographs and selling them to various media institutions and private individuals, according to The Post.
Many observers believe that Rwanda’s military and financial support for various rebel groups, including M23, to destabilise eastern DRC and ‘loot’ its minerals could be the main reason behind the Congolese’ hatred towards that country and its citizens.
Moon of the South’s several attempts last night to get comment from the ‘office’ of the award-winning musician drew blanks.
*Photo by Joseph Mwenda, (courtesy of The Post). Koffi Olomide and his dancers performing in Lusaka last week.