Prominent journalist killed in Mozambique

Joao Chamasse, a journalist in Mozambique, was killed on Dec. 14, 2023, outside his home in Maputo. (Facebook/Joao Chamasse)

A prominent Mozambican journalist was killed early Thursday outside his home in the capital, Maputo.

Joao Chamusse, co-owner and editor of the online daily newspaper Ponto por Ponto, was found dead by neighbors who heard him scream for help during the night, according to the press freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ.

VOA’s Portuguese Service reports that police have yet to release a statement.

Police took more than five hours to remove the corpse, according to Luis Nhanchote, an investigative journalist who worked with Chamusse at various publications.

“So far, it's not clear what were the motivations,” Nhanchote told VOA Portuguese. “But initial evidence points to murder.”

Nhanchote said it’s “suspicious” that Chamusse’s phone and computer are missing.

Chamusse was found with a head wound, and a machete and gardening hoe were lying on the ground, according to the CPJ.

Press freedom groups condemned the killing, with the CPJ calling on Mozambican authorities to “urgently and credibly investigate Chamusse’s killing and its motive and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”

“CPJ is deeply disturbed by the killing of prominent Mozambican journalist Joao Chamusse, and we extend our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues,” Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, said in a statement.

The Mozambique chapter of the regional press freedom group the Media Institute of Southern Africa also denounced the killing.

“We are in a crucial moment of our democracy survival in Mozambique,” Nhanchote told VOA’s Portuguese Service.

Mozambique's Washington embassy did not immediately reply to VOA's email requesting comment.

A veteran reporter, Chamusse was known for his critical coverage of the government, including critical commentary that he made on the TV Sucesso broadcaster.

“He was a very critical journalist,” Nhanchote said.

Chamusse previously co-founded the weekly newspaper Canal de Mocambique and reported at the Mediafax newspaper. Mediafax editor Carlos Cardoso was shot and killed over his work in 2000.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Mozambique 102nd out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

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