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Democratic Republic of Congo22 November 2008

A second Radio Okapi journalist gunned down near his home in Bukavu

Reporters Without Borders is horrified to learn of the murder yesterday of Radio Okapi journalist Didace Namujimbo, who was killed by a single shot to the head near his home in Bukavu, the capital of the eastern province of Sud-Kivu. His death comes 17 months after the fatal shooting of fellow Radio Okapi journalist Serge Maheshe in Bukavu.

“Our first thoughts are for Namujimbo’s relatives and colleagues, to whom we express our fullest support,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The trial of Maheshe’s supposed murderers was a fiasco and thereby paved the way for this second despicable murder, which leaves all the journalists working in the east of the country completely exposed to the threat of further violence.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The Congolese authorities must not treat this case with the same negligence. A serious and immediate investigation must at all costs be carried out to find the person who fired the shot and to identify those behind the murder. There is no more room for botched investigations and grotesque sham trials.”

Namujimbo was shot at around 9:30 p.m. as he was returning to his home in Ndendere, a district of Ibanda, which is a municipality on the outskirts of Bukavu. Journalist in Danger (JED), the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, said: “neighbours heard the shot but did not react out of fear.”

Namujimbo’s body was found the next morning. His two mobile phones had gone but his money and other personal items had not been taken, suggesting that the motive was not robbery.

Radio Okapi editor Léonard Mulamba said: “He was gunned down a few metres from his home. He was shot in the head. Nothing is known as to the motive or the identity of the person or persons behind the murder.”

Bukavu state prosecutor Jacques Melimeli, who went to the murder scene after the body was found, said Namujimbo died instantly. The bullet impact leaves no doubt. He was shot head on and at close range. “We found the casing of the bullet that killed the victim,” Melimeli said. “A forensic examination is currently being conducted by the Bukavu general hospital to determine if the bullet exited the body and how many bullets struck it,” he said.

Namujimbo, 34, leaves a wife and two children. He has a brother, Déo, who is also a journalist.

Maheshe, who was Radio Okapi’s news editor, was gunned down outside his home in Bukavu on 13 June 2007. The station is supported by the Fondation Hirondelle and the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).

Mulamba said Namujimbo, who had worked for Radio Okapi for several years, had done a lot of reporting on the Maheshe murder trial. “Is it the same people seeking revenge?” Mulamba asked. “That is a supposition,” he added. “This continues to be a dangerous region where all stories are sensitive, including military stories and stories about rape.”

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