DR Congo: MONUC and Radio Okapi condemns the murder of its Bukavu journalist Serge Maheshe

On Wednesday evening June 13, 2007 around 8pm local time, Serge Maheshe, journalist, editor and head of Bukavu's Radio Okapi station was killed by two men as he was in company of two friends in Bukavu centre in South Kivu, eastern DRC. The men fired several bullets and fled after the murder.

He was murdered as he was about to get into a UN vehicle, in front of a friends house that he had just visited. His two friends were not wounded in the attack.

Aghast and shocked by this odious crime, whose motive remains unknown, Mr. William L. Swing, MONUC head and UN Special Representative to the Secretary General in the DRC, immediately and strongly condemned the murder.

He also expressed his indignation and sincere condolences, as well all MONUC staff, to the family and colleagues of Serge Maheshe, as well as those of Radio Okapi.

Jean-Marie Etter, the President of the Hirondelle Foundation who are the principal donors to Radio Okapi in the DRC, declared their sorrow at this news, which they said was deeply unjust and revolting. They also paid homage to Serge Maheshe and said they were deeply thankful for the work that he had accomplished for the media, Radio Okapi's audience and the DRC.

Mr. Etter indicated that the Hirondelle Foundation shared the sadness of Serge Maheshe's family, and offered the sincerest condolences from the Council of the Foundation and all its partners, from the headquarters in Lausanne in Switzerland, and all the radio stations that it manages in the world.

A 31 year old Congolese with a bachelor of law from the Catholic university of Bukavu, Serge Maheshe was married with two children. He joined Radio Okapi as a journalist in February 2003, and since December 2006 had assumed the functions of editor and Bukavu station head for the province of South Kivu.

A talented and rigorous journalist, he worked with all his energy to bring peace to his country. He served throughout his career with professionalism for millions of Congolese that listen to Radio Okapi every day, and had confidence in his reporters who like him, devoted themselves to give rigorous, honest and unbiased information.

Serge Maheshe covered the news in conflict zones, in often dangerous situations, in Ituri and in North and South Kivu, in spite of the risks incurred because of the volatile security situation in eastern DRC, that gave Radio Okapi a deserved reputation throughout the country, thanks to his work on strengthening peace and reinforcing reconciliation initiatives.

The death of this young journalist in tragic circumstances, who had contributed so much to the population of the country and to Bukavu in particular, with independent impartial information for which the Congolese long, reminds us that the engagement for peace remains a daily challenge.

MONUC and the Hirondelle Foundation now ask the Congolese authorities to do all in their power so that the perpetrators of this cowardly murder, which cannot be justified, are pursued, stopped and brought before justice in order to answer for their acts.