from TSOANELO MOKHAHLANE in Maseru, Lesotho
MASERU, (CAJ News) – THE killing of investigative journalist, Ralikonelo Joki, is a gruesome reminder of the danger of working in the media in Lesotho.
An unknown number of people shot Joki in the head once and body at least 13 times as he left the privately owned radio station Ts’enolo FM in the capital, Maseru, on Sunday.
Joki, the host of the current affairs show, “Hlokoana-La-Tsela (I Heard It Through the Grapevine)”, covered government, agriculture and corruption, and was best known for breaking a 2021 story about five politicians who were illegally trading alcohol.
The journalist received at least three death threats from different Facebook accounts in March and April, related to his work as a journalist.
“Authorities in Lesotho must thoroughly investigate the killing of Ts’enolo FM host Ralikonelo ‘Leqhashasha’ Joki and ensure those responsible are brought to justice,” said Angela Quintal, Africa programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In 2015, unknown people armed with guns raided Ts’enolo FM and threatened the presenter on duty over the station’s critical reporting on the government.
Quintal recalled a similar attack on Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri in 2016.
An unknown number of assailants shot Mutungamiri twice outside his home in Maseru as he returned from work and left him in a critical condition. The trial is expected to proceed in July 2023.
“Authorities must send a clear signal to those who believe they can attack or kill journalists without consequence that, in Joki’s case at least, there will be swift accountability,” Quintal said.
In response to the shooting, the government has imposed a country-wide curfew beginning on Tuesday (May 16) between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., according to a televised announcement by Minister of Police, Lebona Lephema.
Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane was elected in 2022 amid hopes of a government that will uphold human rights.
– CAJ News