Attack on Kibanda ‘politically motivated’

Friday May 31 2013
kibanda

Mr Kibanda

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) has linked the attack and torture of New Habari Corporation group managing editor Absalom Kibanda to politics and his profession.

The TEF report released yesterday in Tanga also states that some security officials were involved in the attack which left Mr Kibanda seriously injured. During the incident, some of the senior editor’s teeth were pulled out, fingernails plucked out, a finger cut and his left eye perched.

Mr Kibanda, who is also TEF chairman, was flown to South Africa for treatment where he remains hospitalised after he was subjected to torture by some unidentified persons on the night of March 6 at the gate to his house in Mbezi Juu on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

Following the brutal attack, TEF formed a five-member team led by Mr Deodatus Balile to investigate circumstances which led to the attack and torture of Mr Kibanda. The team was also to look into indicators of whether the incident was a coincidence or a premeditated one.

The other members of the team were Ms Pili Mtambalike, Ms Jane Mihanji, Mr Tumaini Mwailenge, and secretary of the Balile-led team, Mr Rashid Kejo.

The team concluded that Kibanda’s attack was engineered by security officials in a plot to spur political animosities between the main opposition party, Chadema and another major political party.

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“Some of the interviewees alleged that Chadema has been given special training by foreign agents to collude with some unethical security personnel to engage in such acts as kidnap, attack and even kill  prominent people in the country including journalists,” reads part of the report.

This, the report argues, was aimed at planting seeds of discord in the country so that citizens would believe that the country has become ungovernable.

Upon being contacted, the Chadema secretary general, Dr Willibrod Slaa, said these were serious allegations and declined to make further comment saying he was yet to read the report.

“Let me first read the document and then I will be in a better position to give the party’s stand,” he told The Citizen in a telephone interview.

The probe team -- guided by five terms of reference -- further revealed a series of scenarios of police involvement a few days before Mr Kibanda’s attack and subsequent torture.

At some point, according to the report, Mr Kibanda and New Habari Corporation’s chief executive officer Hussein Bashe, were being closely monitored by police officers using a police vehicle with registration numbers PT180. The officers even intercepted the duo on the pretext of checking their vehicles between  Sinza Kijiweni, where New Habari offices are located, and Sinza Makaburini.

But, in a swift reaction, Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Advera Senso rubbished the report saying police had no time to waste on people’s emotions.

“Let’s wait for the responsible authorities tasked to investigate the matter. They are working independently and professionally. If we want to take this country to a better level, we must shun acting on emotions and speculations,” she said.

The report further says that a cliff of insecurity facing media professionals looms large as the country inches closer to the 2015 general election. 

It says that there are people who see journalists, who stand for objectivity and truth, as enemies who might spoil their intentions.

TEF recommends that this report be taken as a source of investigation by responsible authorities