“It’s outrageous that someone would assault a reporter because he objected to being asked a question.” This was the first reaction of Tom Rhodes, East Africa consultant of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), after news spread in Malawi that a business leader beat up a journalist during a radio interview.
According to the CPJ, the question was about recent news reports government having overspent its budget, and that protests about rising prices of basic commodities were being planned this month by John Kapito, head of the Consumer Association of Malawi.
After the question, radio journalist Anthony Masamba said business leader Chancellor Kaferapanjira stopped the interview, accused him of being a Kapito supporter, grabbed the recorder, and began punching him in the face, CPJ said, citing local news reports.
The journalist, whose jaw was dislocated, had to be treated at a local hospital after the incident, according to local news reports. He said his recorder was broken in the attack, but that his memory card was not damaged, so he hoped to still be able to broadcast the interview.
Kaferapanjira has since denied that such thing took place, but Steven Chilundu, a reporter for local radio station Capital Radio, told CPJ he accompanied Masamba to the interview and saw Kaferapanjira assault him. Police in the city of Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city, are said to be investigating the case.
Masamba is the bureau chief of the Malawi Institute of Journalism Radio, while Kaferapanjira is the head of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI). The MCCCI is a partnership of enterprises and associations representing all sectors of the economy in the country.
“We call on authorities to take prompt action and demonstrate that no one has the right to physically attack a reporter,” the CPJ said in a statement this week.
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