13th October, 2011
For Immediate Release
The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is
disturbed with reports that Nation Publications Limited (NPL) Journalist
Phillip Pemba is receiving death threats over an article that revealed
that Robert Chasowa had dealings with the police before he was murdered.
We are also disturbed with reports that the police summoned Weekend Nation
Editor George Kasakula and Malawi News Deputy Editor Innocent Chitosi of
Blantyre Newspapers Limited - papers that carried detailed insights into
Chasowa’s death and dealings with the police - for questioning over
recordings of the articles.
Pemba’s article, published in Weekend Nation of October 8, gave an insight
into what could have led to Chasowa’s death and exposed his dealings with
police to help stop the planned August 17 protests against government.
‘One of the callers said they know where I stay and another one asked why
I mentioned the name of Inspector General of Police (IG Peter Mukhito) in
my story. He said I will die over the story. They said i would have been
safe if I left out the names of the police officers involved.’ Pemba is
quoted as saying in The Nation of Wednesday, October 12.
MISA Malawi considers these threats as well as the summoning of editors
Kasakula and Chitosi as deliberate attempts to muzzle journalists and
instil fear in the media sorority. As always stated in our statements,
these acts instil fear and curtail meaningful dialogue and debate on
pertinent issues that affect our country, the murder of student Robert
Chasowa for example.
These developments are barbaric, retrogressive and superfluous in an open
and democratic Malawi and require collective condemnation.
We therefore call upon the authorities to openly condemn and call for
thorough investigations into such threats. We also call upon the police to
support and work with media in uncovering the truth about Chasowa’s death
and not to intimidate and gag journalists. The media helps the country
expose various ills that affect our country and summoning and intimidating
them over the Chasowa article will only raise suspicions than answers.
We applaud the police for launching an investigation into Chasowa’s death.
MISA Malawi is, however, calling on IG Peter Mukhito to openly denounce
such barbaric acts and for the law enforcers to protect journalists and
indeed members of the public who are constantly receiving threats from
IG Peter Mukhito and Southern Region Police Commissioner Rodney Jose, who
were both mentioned in the article by Pemba and subjects of the death
threats, have chosen not to comment on the threats levelled against Pemba.
The article by Pemba indicated that Commissioner Jose took late Chasowa
and his colleague to Lilongwe on August 7 to meet Mukhito over the deal to
foul the August 17 demonstrations. The story revealed that the IG gave
them Chivas Whisky and MK50, 000 each. Jose confirmed taking the group to
Lilongwe to meet Mukhito.
MISA Malawi is thus appealing to the IG and Commissioner Jose to openly
denounce the death threats on Pemba and summoning of editors whose papers
published the insightful articles. Malawi Police is supposed to protect
and ensure peace and security and should therefore condemn and distance
itself from these death threats which are most likely tarnishing the image
of the service and its top brass.
Finally, we appeal to journalists to be professional, alert and to openly
report threats of any nature to relevant authorities.
MISA MALAWI CHAIRPERSON