CAPE TOWN– An international right to freedom of information organisation, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), on Tuesday has condemned the murder of the director of a community radio station in the Ituri province, northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The organisation has also called for a full investigation leading to the identification and conviction of those responsible.
Joël Musavuli, the director of Radio Télévision Communautaire de Babombi (RTCB), was stabbed in the neck in his home by unidentified intruders late on the night of August 13 and died shortly afterwards. The intruders also inflicted injuries on his wife, who is in a critical condition.
Musavuli had been threatened for years for trying to raise awareness about the Ebola virus and in recent months had been hosting a programme called “People, let’s open our eyes” in which he was critical, not only of local armed militias, but also members of the DRC’s armed forces operating in Ituri.
Ituri province is one of the country’s regions rocked by violence between armed rebels and the country’s armed forces.
After a broadcast on July 26 in which he referred to human rights violations by both militia members and regular soldiers during the state of siege declared in May in an attempt to pacify the region, he received a series of death threats from individuals claiming to be members of armed groups and the regular army.
He was also briefly arrested by soldiers during a search of several homes in the village on August 10.
“Joël Musavuli’s murder is a chilling development that deals yet another blow to press freedom in the DRC,” said Assane Diagne, the director of RSF’s West Africa bureau.
“We strongly condemn this despicable act against a journalist who was working courageously to cover difficult but essential subjects in a particularly precarious security situation. The authorities must react to the gravity of this situation.
“The investigation that has been opened must shed all possible light on the case and must lead to the identification and conviction of those responsible.”
RSF had been in contact with Musavuli ever since the 2019 murder of Papy Mumbere, a programme presenter with another Ituri province community radio station, Radio Communautaire de Lwemba. Mumbere was murdered in his wife’s presence after hosting a programme about combating Ebola.