Maputo — The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has strongly condemned the municipal police in the northern city of Nampula for a physical attack against four journalists on Tuesday.
According to a MISA-Mozambique press release, the victims of the police assault all work on private television stations. They were Leonardo Gimo of TV Sucesso, Faizal Abudo and Simao Mugas, reporter and cameraman of TV Muniga, and Emerson Joaquim of Afro TV.
They went to the head offices of the Nampula municipal police, because they were investigating the alleged illegal detention of three youths by the municipal authorities.
The Nampula nucleus of MISA-Mozambique said the three youths belonged to an association calling itself “Mentes Resilientes” (“resilient minds”). They were detained by the municipal police supposedly because, on a TV Muniga programme, they had denounced a physical attack, caught on an amateur video, by the police against an informal trader.
Investigating the matter, the four journalists went to the municipal police headquarters, where they were met by insults and physical attacks. The policemen who attacked the journalists were led by the head of operations, Oliveira Maneque.
“The police had no time to hear us and understand our concern”, said Simao Mugas. “Instead they accused us of defamation and staining the reputation of the police”.
During the attack a motorcycle belonging to Mugas was stolen, and its current whereabouts are unknown. The police also temporarily seized Gimo’s camera.
MISA said it condemns this assault and any other act of violence against journalists. It pointed out that the freedoms of expression and of the press are protected under the Mozambican constitution,
MISA reiterated that “it is the duty of the police authorities to protect journalists and never to attack them”, and warned that legal action will now be taken to hold the assailants responsible for their behaviour.