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Journalists assaulted

(MISA/IFEX) - On 1 December, 2011, Austin Liato, the former Minister of Labour and Social Security in the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) regime, appeared before the magistrate's court in Lusaka in a case relating to the discovery of 2.1 Billion Kwacha (approx. US$410,000) found buried in a fortified building on his property.

The case is newsworthy and of interest to the public, and, as such, the media were at the courthouse to cover the proceedings. However, it did not take long before Liato's supporters started verbally abusing the journalists. The tension soon resulted in a physical scuffle as Liato's supporters descended on several journalists and started beating them.

Arnold Tutu, a journalist with Radio Phoenix, said Liato's supporters, who consisted of a group of about ten people, shouted phrases like "You b*tches are stupid" and attacked several journalists.

"We were attacked in the presence of the police and severely injured. I sustained both external and internal injuries for doing my job," said Mabvuto Phiri, of "The Post" newspaper. "To make matters worse, people around (at the time of the scuffle) were just watching, instead of helping us. However, I commend the journalists for taking photographs of our attackers. We, as the media fraternity, acted as one."

MISA-Zambia Chairperson Daniel Sikazwe stated, "We are deeply saddened and condemn these actions. We wish to call upon the law enforcement agencies to ensure that incidents of this nature do not occur again."

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