Maputo — The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has protested at the physical attack, by members of the local municipal police, against two journalists of the Catandica Community Radio, in the central province of Manica.
The attack occurred last Friday when the two journalists, Marcos Tenesse and Naima Gimo, were covering a clash between street sellers and the municipal police, who were trying to collect municipal taxes.
The Catandica municipality had increased the taxes the street sellers should pay from ten meticais (about 15 US cents) a day to 500 meticais a month. Assuming the sellers work every day except Sundays, that is an increase of 92 per cent.
The police were trying to collect the new taxes coercively, but once they saw that journalists were present three policemen (named by MISA as Simao Francisco, Faruk Gerente and Desejo Figueiredo) launched a physical attack on the two reporters, giving them injuries that required medical attention. The police also confiscated the reporters' working materials.
The management of the community radio station has protested to the Catandica district police command and to the district attorney's office, demanding that measures be taken against the policemen responsible for the attack.
MISA-Mozambique issued a statement "condemning vigorously this crime of physical violence, abuse of power, and the use of police force to limit press freedom". By seizing the reporters' equipment, the police also made it impossible for them to do their job.
MISA points out that "nobody should, under any circumstances, interfere in the work of journalists, or resort to the use of violence to obstruct the work of journalists or seize their materials".
It urged the police and the attorney's office to speed up their investigations into the incident in order to begin criminal proceedings against the three police involved. MISA also called on the Catandica municipal authorities to investigate and take measures.