Lesotho radio journalist fatally shot outside station in shocking incident

Journalist Ralikonelo Joki has been tragically killed after being shot a staggering 13 times on Sunday evening.

As if that weren’t enough, a curfew has been put in place from 10 pm to 4 am and Joki exposed not one, not two, but five politicians who were engaged in illegal trading of alcohol. Can you believe it?

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  • He was shot by unknown gunmen on his way home from a privately-owned radio station.
  • The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho chapter expressed their dismay over the incident, emphasising the importance of press freedom for democracy.
  • Despite the establishment of the National Reform Agenda and various efforts to promote freedom of expression, journalists in Lesotho feel increasingly unsafe.

The media community in the Kingdom of Lesotho is reeling from the death of journalist Ralikonelo Joki, who was killed on Sunday night. Joki, a popular radio presenter, was struck with bullets a shocking 13 times after leaving work at Ts’enolo FM. His killers are still on the loose.

Local journalists, speaking on condition of anonymity, told News24 they were petrified and feel that they are in grave danger. They feel that their safety has not improved despite the establishment of a new government. One journalist lamented the state of affairs in Lesotho, stating, “Those in power operate with impunity and the police, who should be protecting us, are not. As much as it pains me to say it, this tragic incident is an opportunity for the police to reassert their relevance and effectiveness.”

MISA Lesotho, which represents the country’s journalists, expressed shock and sadness over the news. “We are shattered by Joki’s untimely death, which is a grievous blow to press freedom. Indeed, a free press is fundamental to a functioning democracy, which is what we aspire to in Lesotho,” they stated.

Lesotho has been plagued with civil unrest for over a decade, exacerbated by a decline in democracy, as stated by the National Reform Agenda. Hopes were raised when Prime Minister Sam Matekane took office, but journalist’s hopes are dwindling rapidly.

Another journalist appealed for swift action and a crackdown on the perpetrators, saying, “Matekane has a duty to protect the citizens of Lesotho. How could someone be assassinated in such a brazen drive-by shooting? It’s time for a change.”

In light of the tragedy, Minister of Police Lebona Lephema announced a curfew will be enacted between 10 pm and 4 am while the authorities investigate Joki’s murder.

Popular radio presenter, Ralikonelo Joki, known as Leqhashasha, was shot by unknown gunmen after his radio show at Ts’enolo FM last night. The station manager confirmed his untimely passing to the staff members this morning. ????- Boitelo Rabele pic.twitter.com/PPsehm0dqK

— Mohapi Raymond Nkhahle (@MohapiNkhahle) May 15, 2023

Angela Quintal, coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Africa programme, has drawn comparisons between Joki’s case and the 2016 assassination attempt on Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri. Quintal is urging authorities to take swift action and bring the perpetrators to justice without delay.

Joki, or “Leqhashasha” as he was popularly known, was an uncompromising journalist who tackled a wide range of topics, including government policy, corruption, and agriculture. He was also fearless enough to expose five politicians who were engaged in illegal alcohol trading.

His colleagues reported that he received threats on Facebook earlier this year. Lesotho’s chapter of MISA concurs, stating, “We firmly believe that he was targeted and subsequently murdered because of his journalism.”

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