Anglican Priest Fr. John Emmanuel Kapambwe has demanded that justice prevails in the matter in which Diamond TV reporter Ms. Charlotte Sichuunda was injured as she covered protesting bus drivers and their conductors over reduced bus fares in Ndola this week.
Ms. Sichuunda was hit with a stone on the nose as she was filming the protest on Tuesday morning just before Transport Minister Frank Tayali addressed the aggrieved bus drivers and conductors.
Despite being discharged from hospital on the same day, Ms. Sichunda is complaining of headaches and has a swollen face.
Commenting on the development, Fr. Kapambwe of Mkushi in Central Province said the assaulting of Ms. Sichuunda is an infringement on media freedom.
He said the assault and harassment of the media practitioner is a clear indication that the rights of Journalists in Zambia are not protected.
Fr. Kapambwe said it is unfair to stone a journalist who went as a neutral person on a scene to perform her professional duties.
He has since appealed to the Police to bring the culprit to book and ensure that justice prevails.
Fr. Kapambwe said ignoring the injuring of Ms. Sichuunda will instill fear in the journalists and it will make them ineffective.
“The incident that happened on 9th August 2022 at Mulungushi Bus station in Ndola involving the Diamond TV Reporter Ms. Charlotte Sichunda who was injured by the protesting bus operators is saddening. It is a clear indication that the Rights of Journalists are not protected. It is unfair to stone a journalist who came as a neutral person on a scene to perform her professional duty. The bus operators must protest in a professional way. There is an appropriate manner that can be used to express grievances,” Fr. Kapambwe said.
“It is unfortunate that we have not heard any report from the Police. I call upon the relevant authorities to make sure that the culprits are brought to book so that justice prevails. If this is ignored it means we are instilling fear in the journalists and it will make them ineffective. I further call upon the leaders of the bus operators to regulate the unruly behavior of the bus operators. I appeal to all the citizens to support and protect the journalists. They are key stakeholders doing a great job that must be appreciated by a well meaningful Zambian,” he said.
The stoning of Ms. Sichunda was earlier condemned by Ndola Press Association (NPA) President Frank Ching’ambu.
“The Ndola Press Association -NPA is appalled with the behaviour of protesting bus drivers and their conductors at Ndola’s Mulungushi bus station which has resulted in the injury of one of our Members Ms. Charlotte Sichuunda. It is unfortunate that Sichunda has been injured while performing her noble duty of informing the nation on an important matter. It is unfortunate that the drivers and their conductors resorted to throwing stones and among other objects while Minister of Transport and Logistics Frank Tayali was addressing their leadership. We want to remind our sources and the general public that Journalists are not harmful but neutral players who will ever be present on such gatherings for theirs is to inform, educate and entertain,” Mr. Ching’ambu said.
“It is actually the duty of everyone to protect Journalists as they execute their duties. Further, we want to call on media houses to invest in the safety of Journalists even as they are deployed to perform their role of informing, educating and entertaining the masses. We call upon the bus Operators association to term their members and dialogue with relevant stakeholders on the matter rather than resorting to throwing stones on innocent citizens. In the same vein, we call upon the police to move in and bring the culprits to book as letting them go Scot free is a threat to the free and independent media landscape. An attack on one journalist is an attack on all journalists, “he said.