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from TSOANELO MOKHAHLANE in Maseru, Lesotho
Lesotho Bureau
MASERU, (CAJ News) – DURING his inauguration as Prime Minister, Sam Matekane, pledged to ensure the realization of human rights in Lesotho in his first 15 days in office.

Seven months after that swearing-in, human rights groups report a rise in gun violence and targeted killings in the Southern African country.

This follows the shooting and killing of local radio journalist, Ralikonelo Joki, on May 14 in the capital, Maseru.

An unknown number of people shot Joki in the head once and at least 13 times as he left the privately owned radio station, Ts’enolo FM.

Joki, the host of the current affairs show, “Hlokoana-La-Tsela” (I Heard It through the Grapevine), covered government corruption, and was best known for breaking a 2021 story about five politicians who were illegally trading alcohol.

The journalist reportedly received at least three death threats from different social media accounts in March and April, related to his work.

Following the murder, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged authorities to thoroughly investigate and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator, recalled an attempted murder trial after a similar attack on Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri, in 2016 has dragged on for years.

“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 imposed a countrywide curfew between 22h00 and 04h00, announced by Minister of Police Lebona Lephema.

In a briefing to mark almost seven months since Matekane took office, Amnesty International, documented human rights violations committed by police officers, ranging from unlawful killings, torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of persons in detention.

The new government is under pressure to address these human rights violations that took place in the past five years, under the premiership of Tom Thabane.

Amnesty recalled a spike in the number of violations in Lesotho, including torture and other ill-treatment and deaths of detained persons in police custody under mysterious circumstances.

Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty’s interim Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, said Matekane and his government must act swiftly to ensure accountability for these past human rights violations in order to build a culture of accountability and the rule of law going forward.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. Time is not on his (Matekane) side,” Chagutah said.

The activist urged the Prime Minister and his government to recommit to his plan to prioritise human rights and ensure accountability for violations.

“Prime Minister Matekane must seize this chance to rewrite Lesotho’s human rights history,” said Chagutah.

– CAJ News


Source of original article: CAJ News Africa (
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