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Press freedom suffers setback in Somaliland as ten journalists are detained for covering attempted jail break

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Ten journalists have been arrested and detained in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, the self-declared independent region of Somalia, for covering an attempted jail break.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), reported on Friday that the journalists who all work for local independent media organisations, were arrested for covering a daring attempted prison break on Wednesday in Hargeisa.

The Hargesia prison is a high security facility in the city where more than 150 criminal and terror convicts are being held.

A group of the detained men reportedly attempted to escape, leading to a fierce battle and in the ensuing clash with the police, media stations got wind of the melee and sent out reporters to cover the incident.

“The ten journalists were arrested as they covered a standoff between inmates and guards at the Hargeisa Central Prison where a riot broke out after prisoners started hurling stones at the guards,” NUSOJ said in the statement by Secretary-General Omar Faruk Osman.

“Reinforcements were called in and journalists from different media responded to the ensuing commotion that saw the guards open fire, to quell a protest by the inmates who were armed with stones,” Osman added.

According to the group, the police, following up on the arrest of the journalists, raided the independent Horn Cable TV headquarters in Hargeisa in efforts to prevent broadcasts on the events at the prison.

NUSOJ published a list of journalists it said were still in detention and demanded their urgent release, which included local MM TV journalist Mohamed Ilig and Hassan Gallayr, a BBC Somali service reporter.

Others included Niciima Abdi (Caroodeg Media), Ahmed Mahmud (Saab TV), Aydaruus Mahamed (Goobjoog online news site), Ahmed Shimali of HCTV, Mahamed Faan of MM TV and Ahmed Samraawi of Bulsho TV.

But in defence of the clampdown on the media, the Commander of Somaliland Prison Corps, General Ahmed Awale Yusuf, claimed that the affected journalists had shared false news.

“There are people who misinformed the public about the small incident that happened at the prison,” Gen Yusuf told the media.

“We hold them accountable, and we will not allow such people to go unpunished,” he added.

Metro

South African serial rapist gets four life imprisonment terms

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A South African serial rapist and killer, Philani Justice Nkosi, has been sentenced to four life imprisonment terms by a Mpumalanga High Court for rape and murder.

The court also sentenced the 35-year-old to 15 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of murdering one of his victims who recognised him.

Nkosi was sentenced on Friday after the court found him guilty of one count of murder, three counts of rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Monica Nyuswa, who expressed satisfaction with the sentence, said Nkosi committed the offences between 2014 and 2018 in Bhuga Trust and Halfway Trust in KaBokweni.

“In one incident which stands out, the accused attacked a 12-year-old victim while she was on the way to the local shop. He dragged her to the nearby bush, raped and strangled her to death,” Nyuswa said.

“He also raped another woman in March 2016, stabbed and robbed her of cash.

“The accused continued with his crime spree until December 2018 when he raped an adult woman who was on her way home from work.

“The matter was reported to the police, and the accused was subsequently arrested and linked to other crimes through DNA,” Nyuswa said.

Nkosi who pleaded not guilty to the crimes, claimed the two rape survivors were prostitutes and that the deceased was his girlfriend.

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Tanzanian court sentences 11 people to death for killing South African conservationist

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A Tanzanian High Court has sentenced 11 people to death after they were found guilty of killing a South African conservationist, Wayne Lotter, who was murdered in Dar es Salaam in 2017.

The convicts include nine Tanzanians and two citizens of neighbouring Burundi.

The victim was a renowned anti-poaching activist who was singled out by the convicts for disrupting their illegal poaching activities, according to prosecutors while testifying in court on Friday.

State prosecutors told Judge Leila Mgonya that the 51-year-old Lotter who was based in Tanzania, was a founder of the PAMS Foundation, an NGO which worked to stop the poaching of elephants and trafficking of ivory in the East African country.

He was shot dead in Dar es Salaam when the taxi he was travelling in was ambushed and though the exact motive for his killing is still unknown, his colleagues believe he was singled out for his work on protecting elephants, local media reports.

While handing down the death sentences, Judge Mgonya said there was compelling evidence that linked the 11 to the two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and murder on which they were charged

“Some of the suspects, in their statements recorded by police officers, confessed to have taken part in the conspiracy meetings and in killing. The evidence provided was strong enough to convict them,” the judge said.

Tanzania is one of the worst hit African countries in terms of elephant poaching, with a data released early this year noting that more than 66,000 elephants have been lost in the last 10 years due to the activities of illegal poachers.

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