5 September 2012

Tanzania: State to Probe Mwangosi's Death

Photo: The Daily News
The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance Chairman Judge Amiri Manento.

THE government has formed a special committee comprising five people from the Judiciary, Media fraternity and Police Force to investigate the killing of a Channel Ten journalist, Mr Daudi Mwangosi, in Iringa last Sunday.

Addressing journalists, the Minister for Home Affairs, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, said the special committee of five people will be chaired by retired Judge Stephen Ihema.

Other members of the team include Ms Pili Mtambalike of the Media Council of Tanzania; Theophil Makunga of Mwananchi Communications Ltd and Editors Forum, and Criminal Investigation Department representative, Deputy Commissioner of Police Isaya Mngulu.

Dr. Nchimbi told journalists that the Special Committee has been given 30 days to probe the killing of the journalist and present him with a report. Another team comprising experts from various fields including the Government Chief Chemist is also probing the death. Dr Nchimbi said that so far no one has been arrested in connection with the killings of the journalist.

"We will not be in a position to tell who was responsible for the killing until the two investigation teams complete their work and submit their findings. That is when legal steps will be taken against the culprit," he explained. He revealed to journalists that a day before the killing, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) Secretary General, Dr. Wilbrod Slaa, had sent a text message to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Said Mwema warning of skirmishes and deaths.

The message, which did not have an accompanying phone number, was shown to journalists through a flat screen TV linked to a computer. Dr Nchimbi said he is surprised that IGP Mwema has not brought in Dr. Slaa for questioning in connection with his text message and the consequent death of the journalist.

He said that Chadema were not supposed to hold any public rally because of the ongoing census which has been extended for seven days. He refuted claims that the police are being used by Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to oppress other political parties.

He added that Dr. Slaa had been ordered not to hold any public rallies until the census was over. Meanwhile, Chadema has mourned the untimely death of the Chanel Ten journalist, and accused police for telling 'lies' in connection with the incident.

The party's Director of Communication and Publicity, Mr John Mnyika, told a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that statements given by police so far show that there is a plan to hide the truth. Mr Mnyika reiterated that the government should employ the Inquest Act of 1980 which forms the Coroner Court that is responsible of probing deaths that are caused by bizarre circumstances.

"Police have denied responsibility in the death despite clear-cut evidence that has been seen in the media that police beat up the late Mwangosi," he said. Mr Mnyika also called for immediate resignation of police officers who are directly connected with the incident. He also called for immediate arrest of all the police who were photographed beating the late Mwangosi as investigation continues. "There is no need to wait until the investigation is over.

"The police officers whose faces appear in photographs in the media should be apprehended immediately," he said. Mr Mnyika further alleged that Mwangosi was killed deliberately because in the early hours of Sunday, he had quarrelled with the Iringa Regional Police Commander.

He noted that the RPC was annoyed by the tough questions posed to him by the late Mwangosi and warned journalists over forthcoming bad outcomes at the Chadema meeting. Commenting on the legality of Chadema's activities which led to the chaos, Mr Mnyika refrained from making any comments but claimed that their political rivals (CCM) held a rally in Zanzibar but were not stopped by police.

"We were ordered to halt public rallies. In Iringa we were just having minor activities which included launching party branches," he said. In another development, the Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, Dr Fenella Mukangara, has said that the killing of Mr Mwangosi is a sad incident that was not planned.

The Minister told a delegation of foreign journalists who paid her a courtesy call in her office yesterday that the government is already taking steps to investigate the killing and take legal action against those who were involved. "This is a sad moment for the country and especially journalists. However, the government has already set up probe teams that will investigate the matter," she explained.

Mr Christopher Conybeare of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) said that the killing of the journalist has a chilling effect on press freedom in the country. "When journalists are killed, democracy also dies. This single event has already begun to tarnish Tanzania's excellent reputation for media freedom," he said.

Mr Conybeare added that only a full, transparent and independent investigation that serves to hold accountable those responsible for the tragedy can begin to restore the country's reputation. He said Tanzania has for years set a standard for a diverse, independent and vibrant media placing the country in a leadership position in this regard.

The Foreign Journalists from various media councils around the world including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Turkey, India and Pakistani are being hosted by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT).

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