The killing of an outspoken radio journalist, Ralikonelo ‘Leqhashasha’ Joki, pictured, in Lesotho has been condemned by media and civil rights campaigners.
“I deplore the killing of Ralikonelo Joki. I urge authorities to investigate this crime and hold those involved to account. Violent attacks on journalists must not be used to discourage them from conducting their fundamental work, on which all of society relies,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
The Lesotho chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) callled Joki’s death an attempt to silence journalists. “Lesotho is now being seen as a country where journalism is risking your life,” said Kananelo Boloetse, chair of MISA-Lesotho.
Unidentified assailants shot Joki while he was driving away from his studio in Maseru. He hosted a regular current affairs programme on Tsénolo FM, and had received death threats in connection with his work in recent months. Joki, host of the current affairs show “Hlokoana-La-Tsels” (“I heard it through the Grapevine”), worked for Ts-enolo FM radio station and covered government, agriculture, and corruption. He was best known for breaking a story in 2021 about five politicians who were illegally trading alcohol.
The radio station programme manager Rets’epile Maloi told the Committee to Protect Journalists that a gang armed with guns raided the station in 2015 and threatened the presenter on duty over the station’s critical reporting on the government.