Two reporters of Canal 2 International TV are reported to have been molested and had their working equipment destroyed by Yaounde V Council police in the course of covering a protest by bike riders over the “illegal seizure” of their bikes Thursday April 29.
One of them, a cameraman, Bertrand Tchasse was left in a critical condition according to his colleague, Hycinth Chia but is feeling much better by now.
Confiding to his colleagues of other media organs, Hycinth Chia said both of them went over to the Council when they heard about a strike action by motorbike riders over what they termed “illegal seizure” of their bikes by Council police.
Upon reaching the Council, they discovered the situation had already been calmed and decided to meet the Mayor to get the right information.
They were received by the Chief of Cabinet and later on told the Mayor will attend to them.
After about 30 minutes, the Chief of Cabinet came back to them and said the Mayor had and urgent meeting to attend and could no longer receive them.
While leaving the Council, they stopped by at the gate where the security guard tried to explain to them what had happened since morning.
In the course of this, Hycinth Chia says they saw over 100 bikers coming toward the Council shouting. They decided to talk directly with them, take their reactions plus images for the news.
“The first biker started talking, we asked him what they are demanding from the Council and immediately he started explaining, they left the Council, landed on us, took the camera, threw it away…the camera is in a very terrible state…” the reporter said.
“They pooled us from the other side of the road to the Council premises with beatings. The cameraman was in a very critical state but is out of danger though has lost a tooth as a result of the incident…”
Hycinth adds that while they were being molested, the Mayor passed by, got inside his vehicle and drove away.
Canal 2 TV Yaounde bureau Editor in Chief came over to the Council after he was informed of the situation by the driver and was threatened not to usher a word according to Hycinth.
He reportedly called the Mayor and asked if he is aware of the situation and the response he got was “his boys were doing their work.”
According to a release from the Communication officer of the Council, the reporters’ working equipment were seized because they incited bike riders to disorder so as to get images for their report after the situation had already been calmed by the Mayor.
This incident that has been condemned by many journalists happens two days to the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day.