Lesotho: Investigative Radio Journalist Shot Dead

press release

According to local reports from Lesotho, Joki, who was known for his reporting on corruption and organised crime, was driving out of the radio station premises shortly after presenting his programme, Hlokoana La Tsela (I heard it from the Grapevine) when he was ambushed and killed. He was declared dead by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDR), who quickly responded to a call at the scene.

Former executive member of the Lesotho Journalists Association, Marafaele Mphloboli, who has also worked with Joki for a number of years, described him to the IFJ as "a person who had a passion for investigative stories and unearthing the rot in the public service. He was considered as a loose cannon, because neither threat nor intimidation could deter him from pursuing a story."

There is unanimity in Lesotho media circles that journalist Joki was killed because of his work, as he had received at least three death threats in relation to his stories.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of Ralikonelo Joki and strictly condemn this senseless act of killing. It is a matter of public interest to ensure the safety of those who fulfil their obligations towards the public's right to know. We demand a swift independent investigation into the murder of Ralikonelo Joki and assurance that the government will deepen its protection of journalists' safety."

Authorities in Lesotho have declared an indefinite curfew starting on 16 May, to help track down Joki's killers.

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