A group of 10 Malawi police officers on 22 January 2021 allegedly assaulted an investigative journalist, Henry Mhango, while he was reporting on compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
In an interview with an online news platform, Mhango said he saw police officers allegedly assaulting people who were not wearing masks. He approached the officers and asked to take a picture.
The members of the Malawi Police Service denied his request and instead insulted him and sent him on his way. Mhango said after he left the scene, the police officers followed him and assaulted him.
Following the alleged assault, Mhango was treated at a hospital for injuries sustained during the assault.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police responsible for Operations, Demster Chigwenembe, has since apologised for the incident and promised to identify and discipline the officers who assaulted the journalist.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe is appalled that security officials assaulted a journalist in such a manner. However, MISA Zimbabwe is heartened by commitments by the police to investigate the case and hold those responsible to account.
Such an investigation will go a long way in ending impunity for crimes against journalists. Freedom of the press and the safety of journalists are the hallmarks of democracy and any violations against the media ought to be investigated, with offenders brought to book.
We call on Malawi authorities and the police to ensure the safety of journalists.