Media Institute of Southern Africa – MISA Malawi chapter has condemned prison warders at Maula prison in Lilongwe for beating up Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalists as they were covering the ongoing prison warders’ strike. According to MISA, MBC reporter Patrick Dambula and cameraman Hastings Khomo were manhandled by the warders around lunch hour on Monday.
A statement issued by MISA-Malawi chapter and signed by its chairperson Teresa Ndanga says media has a right to try everything possible to gather information within Malawi and abroad and what the warders did is unacceptable.
“The chapter would like to remind people that the media has a right to report within Malawi and abroad and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to information. We believe that media coverage of the strike by the prison authorities is no exception,” says the statement.
Dambula told MISA Malawi that they failed to do their story as the prison warders turned against them.
“Things got worse when we approached the gate. The prison warders tried to confiscate the camera but fortunately they failed. We failed to even do any interviews for our story. Luckily enough no one was hurt,” Dambula told MISA-Malawi chapter.
MISA Malawi has since asked prison authorities to desist from attacking the media and to ensure that the warders who manhandled the journalists are brought to book. “Beating up reporters and treating them as criminals is barbaric and retrogressive.
“MISA Malawi would like to caution the general public against any form of attack on journalists in their line of duty. Journalists have a responsibility to report and inform Malawians on developments in the country. Any form of attack on journalists is an infringement on not just the media’s right to gather and report but also citizens’ rights to know,” says the statement.