Kinshasa, May 26, 2023—Congolese authorities must investigate the recent attack on journalist Geonne Djokwa and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.
On Saturday, May 20, a group of protesters at a rally organized by opposition presidential candidates in Kinshasa, the capital, attacked Djokwa while she covered demonstrators clashing with police, according to media reports and local journalists Prisca Yasetonga and Gloria Tshiatumba, who were at the scene.
One protester swung a machete at Djokwa, a reporter with the privately owned broadcaster Congo Lisanga Télévision, cutting the right side of her head. Demonstrators also seized her phone and camera.
Protesters also used a machete to threaten Yasetonga, who told CPJ they prevented her from covering the demonstration for the privately owned YouTube channel Mbonka nde Congo Television, but she managed to escape without injury.
“DRC authorities should thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist Geonne Djokwa and ensure that anyone who slashes a journalist’s head with a machete is made to face the consequences of their actions,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, in Nairobi. “As the DRC approaches its next elections, journalists must be free to report on political activities without obstruction or fear that they will be attacked.”
Tshiatumba told CPJ that Djoka was taken to a hospital for treatment, where President Felix Tshisekedi visited her, and her condition was improving. Her phone and camera had not been returned as of May 25.
Djokwa is seen after being slashed with a machete at a protest. (Photo: Benjamin Ndongala)
The demonstration over rising living expenses, which was organized by four opposition candidates in the DRC’s presidential election scheduled for December 2023, turned violent when police sought to disperse the crowd, according to media reports. When the police attacked, protesters fought back and sought to prevent journalists from documenting the scene, Tshiatumba told CPJ.
CPJ called the four opposition candidates who organized the rally, Martin Fayulu, Moïse Katumbi, Delly Sesanga, and Matata Ponyo. None replied, and a representative who answered Fayulu’s phone disconnected shortly afterward.
CPJ called Kinshasa City Police Chief Sylvano Kasongo Kitenge but no one answered.