UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has condemned the killing of the Lesotho broadcaster,c, and urged authorities to investigate the crime and hold those responsible to account.
“Violent attacks on journalists must not be used to discourage them from conducting their fundamental work, on which all of society relies,” she said.
Unidentified assailants are reported to have fired at least 13 bullets at Joki, while he was driving away from his place of work on Sunday, 14 May 2023.
Joki, a presenter with Lesotho radio station, Tṧenolo FM, was shot dead outside the premises of the radio station, in Maseru, the country’s capital.
The motive behind his shooting is not known, although there is consensus among stakeholders that the reason he was killed was related to his work as a journalist.
In the past two months, Joki had been receiving threats on social media, particularly Facebook.
In one threat, a Facebook user identified as Enock Enock:posted that: “Reporters without vision like Leqhashasha, who use radio to spread hate, meet terrible deaths.”
In another instance, another user said Joki “would pay with his skin for being disrespectful and making many enemies”.
The police are yet to make any arrests.
MISA Lesotho chairperson Kananelo Boloetse said: “These acts are an affront to our attainment of democracy … they may have the potential to instil fear in journalists as they execute their mandate to society.
“It is our fervent hope that justice will speedily be served and the assassins of Mr Joki will be apprehended and face the wrath of the law.”
MISA Regional Director Tabani Moyo expressed shock at Joki’s killing.
“Just recently, we celebrated World Press Freedom Day, where we applauded Lesotho for turning the corner in terms of attacks against journalists, as the safety environment for journalists had seemingly improved,” he said.
“Joki’s killing is a throwback to the dark days when armed people would storm newsrooms and shoot at journalists with impunity.”
Moyo called for a speedy investigation, cautioning that any delay would further entrench impunity in Lesotho and make the practice of journalism even more difficult.
(Below are screenshots of the death threats made against Ralikonelo Joki over the past two months)