Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Tanzania10 January 2008

Two suspects arrested for acid attack on newspaper journalists

Dar es Salaam police commander Alfred Tibaigana announced on 7 January that two men have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out an attack with machetes and acid on Saeed Kubenea, the publisher of the weekly Mwanahalisi, and Ndimara Tegambwage, its editor, in the newspaper’s office in the suburb of Kinondoni on 5 January. He said the two suspects are currently been questioned by the Dar es Salaam police.

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete condemned the attack and visited Kubenea in hospital. Kubenea is about to be flow to India for specialised treatment to his injuries at government expense.

07.01.08 - Machete and acid attack on two journalists inside their newspaper

Reporters Without Borders condemns an attack with machetes and acid on Saeed Kubenea, the publisher of the weekly Mwanahalisi, and Ndimara Tegambwage, its editor, by thugs who forced their way into the newspaper’s office in the Dar es Salaam suburb of Kinondoni on the evening of 5 January.

“This barbaric attack is especially disturbing in a country where it is not customary to use physical violence to try to silence journalists,” the press freedom organisation said. “We note that an investigation is under way and we urge the authorities to do everything possible to ensure that those responsible are identified and receive an appropriate punishment.”

Armed with machetes and acid, the assailants stormed into Mwanahalisi’s offices at around 9 p.m., ordered Kubenea and Tegambwage to lie down, gave them a severe beating, threw acid on them and dealt Tegambwage several machete blows to the head.

“They fell on us with iron bars,” Kubenea later said from a hospital bed. “They hit me about the head and threw a burning liquid in my face. My colleague, who tried to resist, was also beaten and sprayed before the assailants stole his mobile phone.” The two journalists were taken to Muhimbili National Hospital the next day.

It seems the attack was prepared with care as witness say they saw suspicious individuals hanging around outside the newspaper’s premises earlier in the evening. Kubenea said the attack was the culmination of a series of threats against him that began in mid-2007.

He said that his car was recently the target of an arson attack and that he often received telephone threats as a result of articles published in the newspaper. “I was warned that I would be killed if I did not stop meddling in people’s business,” he said.

Confirming that an investigation was under way, regional police chief Jamal Rwambow said he thought the attack was an attempt to silence journalists who had helped to uncover scandals.

In this country
21 July - Tanzania
Police raid independent weekly and editor’s home
21 August - Tanzania
Journalist who appeared in film is threatened with deportation
9 August - Tanzania
Zanzibar authorities continue to harass banned weekly’s former editor
13 June - Tanzania
Zanzibar government bans leading columnist
2 December - Tanzania
Zanzibar authorities continue to harass independent weekly after one year

in the annual report
Tanzania - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists