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Tanzanian radio journalist found dead in forest

UPDATE: Motive for journalist's murder still unclear (MISA, 15 January 2013)

(MISA-Tanzania/IFEX) - 9 January 2013 - Issa Ngumba (45), a special correspondent for Radio Kwizera in Kakonko District, Kigoma region was found dead on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 in the Kajuhuleta forest, three days after he went missing under mysterious circumstances. Kigoma region is in northwestern Tanzania.

Ngumba's body was reportedly found with gunshot wounds and signs of strangling. A handgun and two mobile phones believed to belong to the journalist were also found next to his body.

Kigoma Regional Police Commander, Fraisser Kashai, has confirmed the incident and said police are investigating the death and also waiting for the coroner's report. A detailed briefing would then be given to the media after the coroner's report is issued.

Commenting on the incident, Kigoma Press Club Chairperson, Deogratius Nsokolo, said information made available to him suggests Ngumba was strangled and shot on his arm. Independent media reports say the journalist was shot in the left arm and then hanged. Information said to be from Ngumba's family indicates that the journalist left his home on the evening of Saturday, 5 January 2013 for the local shopping centre but never returned.

The Tanzania Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Tanzania) is following up on the incident. Meanwhile, MISA's Programme Specialist for Media Freedom Monitoring & Research, Levi Kabwato, has bemoaned the journalist's death and called on Tanzanian police to thoroughly investigate the matter.

“We are saddened by this death and our sympathies are with the Ngumba family for their loss. We call on the relevant authorities in Tanzania to make available all resources necessary to ensure that this unfortunate incident is thoroughly investigated and that those responsible for Issa's death are brought to book. We will stop at nothing to ensure that this happens,” Kabwato said.

Ngumba is the second journalist to die in Tanzania, within a space of five months, in what appear to be targeted killings. On Sunday, 2 September 2012, prominent journalist, Daudi Mwangosi, died in the line of duty while covering clashes between the police and members of Tanzania's largest opposition political party, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema). The incident occurred in the southern highlands region of Iringa.

Information gathered from two investigations into Mwangosi's death, one from the Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance and the other from the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) highlighted the police's actions in handling Chadema supporters as contributing significantly to the eventual death of the journalist. One police constable, 23 year-old Cleophase Pasifious, was arrested and charged with Mwangosi's murder.
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