Reporters Without Borders called on the Mozambican authorities today to protect Jeremias Langa, the news director of the privately-owned television station Soico TV (STV), who was briefly kidnapped at gun-point on 27 January in Maputo and threatened with the same fate as journalist Carlos Cardoso - killed in 2000 - if he continued to "talk to much."
The press freedom organisation said Langa’s kidnapping was preceded by an armed threat against him in October in which the police investigation achieved nothing. It also pointed out that the latest incident had come just a few days after one of Cardoso’s convicted killers was returned to prison, and that it had revived old concerns.
"Violence against the press and impunity for the perpetrators should finally be a thing of the past," Reporters Without Borders said. "But to achieve this goal, the Mozambican authorities must take this attack seriously rather than finding excuses for not carrying out an immediate investigation."
The organisation added that the authorities should protect Langa until they had caught those who carried out the attack and its instigators, if there was any.
Langa said he was held up by two gunmen "of African race, in their 30s" in the Maputo suburb of Malhangalene on the evening of 27 January. Threatening him with their pistols, they got into his Toyota Corolla with him. One took the wheel while the other kept his gun trained on Langa in the back seat.
"You talk to much," said the man pointing his gun at Langa. "You’re a journalist who talks to much. You are going to be given a lesson that will make you shut up. Your are going to die like Carlos Cardoso."
Langa told Reporters Without Borders he made an effort to say nothing in reply and to keep calm. "You are saying nothing, but you talk too much on your TV station," his assailants kept saying during the half hour that the abduction lasted.
They finally threw him out of the car as they passed a restaurant a few kilometres from the city centre. Displaying their pistols one last time, they said: "Say anything at all, and you’ll be killed."
In the October incident, Langa was accosted by three men, two of whom were armed, as he approached his car after leaving his office. One of them said to him: "Journalist bastard, we’ll get you." Langa told Reporters Without Borders the police took no action and, when he enquired, they said they had "mislaid the complaint."
He said he did not know the precise motives for these attacks, but he assumed his frequent comments of a political nature on the air on STV during interviews with Mozambican personalities could expose him to reprisals.