NEW YORK, March 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Authorities in Tanzania must immediately investigate a vicious attack on a veteran journalist in Dar es Salaam, the capital, on Tuesday night, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Absalom Kibanda, the chairman of the Tanzania Editors Forum and managing editor of the media company New Habari Corp., was headed home at night when three unidentified assailants smashed the window of his car and pulled him out of the vehicle, according to local journalists who interviewed him. The men attacked Kibanda with a gun and sharp metal objects.
News accounts reported that Kibanda immediately sought treatment at a local hospital for a severe eye injury, a severed fingertip, and broken teeth. The journalist was subsequently taken to a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, to receive further treatment.
Inspector General of Police Said Mwema said he had assigned four detectives to conduct investigations, but that no arrests had been made, news reports said.
“Authorities must do their utmost to track down the perpetrators of this brutal attack against Absalom Kibanda,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes.
Kibanda told local journalists that one of the assailants had wanted to shoot him, but that the other two had discouraged him, the reports said. Kibanda also said that he suspected the attack was linked to his journalistic work because nothing had been stolen. Neville Meena, secretary-general of the editors forum, told CPJ that Kibanda’s car, iPad, and two mobile phones were not taken.
Kibanda has also faced recent legal harassment. News accounts reported that Kibanda and two of his former colleagues were scheduled to appear in court on March 6. The journalists face sedition charges, filed under the draconian 1976 Newspaper Act, in connection with a column published in the private Swahili daily Tanzania Daima that claimed authorities had misused police to block demonstrations by an opposition party. The case has been postponed until March 26, news reports said.
The Tanzania Editors Forum is holding a meeting on Friday to conduct an investigation into the attack and determine how to help the editor.