Mzuni Students Attack Journalist, Delete Photos: MISA Malawi Demands Justice
MISA Malawi strongly condemns the attack on NPL reporter Jonathan Pasungwi by Mzuni students during a fee hike demonstration.
Mzuzu, Malawi -- The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) has strongly condemned the violent attack on Nation Publications Limited (NPL) reporter Jonathan Pasungwi by a group of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) students during a demonstration against a fee hike on Friday, September 15, 2023, writes Winston Mwale.
The incident unfolded when Pasungwi, who was covering the student protest, found himself on the receiving end of aggression from some demonstrators.
They manhandled him, forcibly took his phone, and deleted all the pictures he had taken for his report.
In a statement, MISA Malawi expressed deep concern over the incident, highlighting the irony that university students, who are expected to be intellectually mature and champions of freedom, resorted to violent actions against a journalist carrying out his duty.
They stressed the importance of safeguarding media freedom, especially during demonstrations.
"We find it very disturbing that the university students, who are expected to be intellectually mature and be at the forefront of protecting freedoms violently attacked a journalist in the line of duty. It is even more worrying that the students violated media freedom in the course of enjoying their own freedom of assembly," the statement read.
MISA Malawi reiterated its call for the public, including demonstrators, to respect and uphold constitutionally guaranteed press freedom at all times.
Physically or verbally attacking journalists and forcefully deleting information during demonstrations was condemned as both morally wrong and a criminal act.
"Journalists have a duty to inform the public on matters of national importance, including freedom of assembly and speech, and should always be granted the right to safely report, which includes reporting on demonstrations," the statement further emphasised.
The organisation urged law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident and hold all those responsible for assaulting Pasungwi accountable. They called for an end to impunity for crimes against journalists.
In conclusion, the statement was signed by Golden Matonga, the Chairperson of MISA Malawi, who stressed the importance of protecting journalists and ensuring they can work without fear of violence.
Meanwhile, Mzuzu University (Mzuni) has been abruptly shut down, leaving students with no choice but to vacate the campus by 5:00 a.m. this Saturday.
Authorities at the institution have made this decision in response to recent student protests against a proposed fee hike.
Yesterday, a group of Mzuni students took to the streets to demand the government's suspension of the planned fee increase.
The protests, marked by chants and placards, drew attention to the financial strain faced by students and their families.
University Registrar Yonamu Ngwira issued a memo addressing the closure, citing concerns about safeguarding university property during this turbulent period.
The memo clearly states that no student will be allowed entry onto campus for the duration of the closure.
While the closure may come as a surprise to many, the memo assures students that the university administration will keep them informed about the date of the institution's reopening.
This step is expected to provide clarity and allow students to plan accordingly during this unexpected hiatus.
It remains to be seen how both parties will navigate the challenges posed by this closure and whether it will lead to a resolution of the fee hike dispute.
*Additional reporting by Susan Moyo.