Lesotho Declares Indefinite Curfew After a Prominent Journalist Killed

Published: 22 May 2023

Lesotho MaseruLesotho’s capital Maseru. (Photo: John Hogg/World Bank, Flickr, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

The Southern African kingdom of Lesotho has imposed a night curfew in an attempt to curb gun violence after radio presenter Ralikonelo Joki was gunned down in the capital of Maseru over the weekend.

The curfew covers the period between 10 pm and 4 am and is to remain in place until further notice. It excludes persons performing essential duties.

Those failing to comply can face up to two years in prison.

Joki, who hosted a popular radio show and was critical of the ruling establishment, received multiple shots by unknown assailants on his way home from work on Sunday night.

He rose to prominence in 2021 after exposing Lesotho politicians’ involvement in the illegal alcohol trade.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that Joki had received at least three death threats related to his work as a journalist in the months preceding the attack.

According to Reporters Without Borders, media freedom in Lesotho remains fragile and abuses against journalists are not uncommon.

A similar attack was conducted against Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri in July 2016, when he was shot twice outside his home in Maseru and was left in critical condition.

Lesotho, an impoverished mountainous kingdom encircled by South Africa, has faced a deteriorating security situation in recent years and currently has the third-highest murder rate in the world, surpassed only by El Salvador and Jamaica.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for a thorough investigation into Joki’s murder.

“An attempted murder trial after a similar attack on Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri in 2016 has dragged on for years,” said CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.

“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,” she added.