THE Chairman of Tanzania Editors' Forum (TEF) and Managing Editor of New Habari (2006) Corporation, Mr Absalom Kibanda (47), has been injured seriously.
He was attacked by unknown people a few metres from his residence in Mbezi Beach on Tuesday night. The police in Dar es Salaam have formed a nine-strong committee to investigate the beating of the senior journalist.
Mr Kibanda, who was flown to South Africa for further treatment yesterday afternoon, was pulled out of his car by the assailants at the gate of his house and beaten up. Briefing journalists yesterday at Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) where Mr Kibanda was undergoing treatment, a member of TEF, Mr Theophil Makunga, said that the journalist had been injured "quite seriously".
"He had some of his teeth and nails plucked out and his left eye was pierced with a sharp object. He also suffered multiple injuries on his head following ruthless blows from his attackers," Mr Makunga said emotionally.
Some members of the Editors' Forum, however, believe that the attack on the senior journalist was related to his work as a journalist as nothing was stolen from his car, said a statement issued by the Executive Secretary of TEF, Mr Neville Meena.
Mr Kibanda was yesterday expected to appear at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court where he is facing charges of sedition with two other people. The case stems from a feature article that appeared in a Kiswahili daily newspaper, 'Tanzania Daima', for which he was Managing Editor, before he crossed over to New Habari in the past few months.
"We believe that state organs will investigate, arrest and bring to justice the people who are responsible for the attack on Mr Kibanda. "TEF takes this incident as a threat to the media, editors and journalists and thus we urge media practitioners to be vigilant in exercising their duties," Mr Meena warned in the statement.
Mr Meena likened the beating of Mr Kibanda to that of the Leader of the Interim Committee of Doctors, Dr Stephen Ulimboka, who was kidnapped, beaten and dumped in the Mabwepande forest on the outskirt of the city.
Accounts of the incident as narrated by different people who spoke to Kibanda indicate that a few minutes after midnight, while driving his Nissan X-Trail car with registration number T653 AZR, he was attacked by people as he was waiting for a guard to open the gate to his home.
He was then pulled out of the car by the attackers who proceeded to beat him on his head with what is believed to be a metal bar. The guard, who was a few metres away, ran to nearby houses to alert neighbours who turned up a few minutes later only to find Mr Kibanda in bad shape and bleeding from various parts of his body.
The Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, visited Mr Kibanda at MOI yesterday and described his situation as appalling.