The killing of a prominent Lesotho journalist has sent shockwaves and heartbreak
throughout the media industry in Lesotho. Ralikanelo Leqhashasha Joki was the host of
Hlokoana La Tsela (I heard it from the grapevine) current affairs programme at Tsénolo FM
and covered corruption, agriculture, and government. He was best known for his story back
in 2021 about five politicians who were illegally trading alcohol. The killing is believed to
be in connection with his work as a journalist.
Joki was reportedly gunned down in cold blood on Sunday, May 14, shortly after knocking
off from his current affairs programme which runs from 6 to 9pm daily. As he was driving
out of the Tsénolo FM premises, an unknown number of men ambushed him and shot him at
least 13 times, killing him. Quoted in an article by Lesotho Times, following the shooting
and death of Joki, Tsenolo station manager Mshengu Shabalala said, “…He lost control of
the car as he tried to drive off which then skidded to the opposite of Tsénolo FM premises,
where it hit the wall of Thamae Shopping Centre. Even then, the assassins continued to
shoot at him to ensure that he was dead. He was declared dead by members of the Lesotho
Defence Force (LDF) who were swift to respond to a call to the scene,”
The killing of Joki is another serious attack on media freedom and freedom of expression.
The Campaign for Free Expression calls on the Lesotho Authorities to carry out
investigations and prosecutions that bring journalist murderers to justice. It is often
journalists who investigate and report on corruption that are targeted and killed, a lot of the
time these crimes go unpunished.
We condemn the threats of violence and crimes against journalists for doing their job. In
order to guarantee media freedom, free expression and access to information, impunity for
crimes against journalists ought to come to an end. Journalism is not a crime; it is a
fundamental cornerstone of freedom.
The killing of Joki creates a climate of fear in the media space, it impedes the free flow and
circulation of information, ideas, and opinion. Lesotho authorities must thoroughly
investigate the death of Joki, and the perpetrators must not go unpunished.
*The Campaign for Free Expressions is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation that defends
and promotes free expression for all across southern Africa.
Contact: Anton Harber, Executive Director
083 303 9497