By Seipati Thabo & T’soloane Mohlomi –

The untimely death of popular radio host Ralikonelo Joki, affectionately known as “Leqhashasha” by fans and colleagues alike, has left a huge gap in the media fraternity, business and the greater population.

According to reports the prominent radio broadcaster who hosted Hlolokoana la Tsela, on T’seolo FM was gunned down moments after leaving the premises of his radio station, in Ha Thamae, Maseru. Colleagues claim to have heard gunshots right after his car engine started, later his lifeless body was said to have been retrieved by members of the army from a bullet riddled car, which seemed to have sped from the stations driveway across the street until it jammed onto an adjacent building on the other side of the road.

According to the report his body was covered in blood with what seemed like multiple bullets to the head. Members of the national assembly later expressed concern over the recent escalating number of murders in the country. Police Minister Lebona Lephema subsequently imposed a curfew from 10 PM to 4AM effect from Tuesday.

In an interview on national television yesterday, Information, Communication, Science, Technology Minister Ms Nthati Moorosi, expressed dismay at the lack of value of a human life in a democratic state especially with regards to journalists. She said Joki’s death indicated a sheer disregard of democratic rule as he was shot upon exiting his workplace and that a lot still needed to be done to ensure the safety of journalists in the country

There have been wide speculations and suspicions surrounding his death with many alleging that the hit had to do with his job and the controversial statements he made on his shows.

“If one kills a reporter in a democratic state they undermine the very foundations of democracy. Within a free and democratic rule everyone from government to the civilians should enjoy freedom to do what they wish within legal boundaries, journalists as the public watchdog are therefore entitled to have freedom of speech and obsession.

“So if one kills the public watchdog they are indeed adding an insult to the greater public,” Minister Moorosi said.

Mr Joki’s death has left a huge void in the industry as he was famous for his robust no nonsense approach when it came to dealing with political issues and corruption. He had gained wide listenership and mostly hailed for his impartial approach when tackling matters of public interest.

Ts’enolo FM as a station has been dealt a great blow following his death, as his shows attracted a great deal of business in adverting for the station, and as many at the station and in the media field looked up to him due to his prominence.

Ts’enolo FM station manager Mr Mshengu Shabalala, said Mr Joki will be missed dearly and said that the incident indicated that the safety of journalists in Lesotho is still a major challenge.

The Media institute of Southern Africa in Lesotho (MISA) in a statement about the loss of Mr. Joki expressed their sincere condolences to the family, friends and entire media fraternity. MISA -Lesotho is party to the global world on protection of journalists against attacks, intimidations, harassments as well as murders. The statement mentioned acts of this kind having a potential in instilling fear on journalists as they execute their mandate to society, but the statement said MISA will continue waging the struggle against actions of this nature on their journalists and for the protection of their safety and security.

“This issue of killings in our country needs urgent address, It has become very easy for perpetrators of these acts to execute them in Lesotho, if it is so easy to kill in Lesotho then media practitioners as members of the public will also suffer the same fate,” said Chairperson of MISA Lesotho, Kananelo Boloetse

On a sad note in just about a fortnight ago, Lesotho joined the world in celebrating World Press Freedom day, which marked the protection of journalists’ safety and security. Though Lesotho participated in celebrating the day, Sunday night’s horrendous incident is still fresh in all minds: a local radio station presenter was shot and killed near the gate of his radio station.

Last year Lesotho’s death rate was one of the highest in the world, with the narrative remaining unchanged in previous years; most of the killings can be attributed to the unrelenting scourge of famo accordion wars.

The media fraternity has indeed suffered a loss as Mr. Ralikonelo Leqhashasha Joki;   worked with different radio stations in the country .He worked at stations such as Moafrika, people’s choice, MXL FM radio to mention some which says he participated a lot in the media industry.

One of Mr. Joki’s friends Mr. Mojalefa Roberts, said he knew “Leqhashasha” for a very long time. He said in the media industry Mr. Joki was one of the people who played a major role, as most of the time, in the programs he presented one would find the freshest and newest news updates, which all Basotho wanted to hear.  He also knew Mr. Joki to be a very good communicator and excellent at his work.

He said they have all lost but mostly thinks the media sector lost a lot, as he was very good in bringing news and has never seen or heard a radio presenter who can fill that gap left by Mr. Joki. Mr. Roberts further mentioned that Mr. Joki was working purely for Basotho, he said if he knew something odd was happening he would dig it until he got to the bottom of it. He concluded that Mr. Joki was also an open minded individual when it came to business.

Mrs Ntšepeng Tšita Tikiso a prominent business woman who’s also a stakeholder in the media industry, said she thinks that media personals are less protected in this country and this makes them fear for their lives. She said she is very concerned about people’s security in the country, because if a man can be killed just like that, she wonders what can happen to women out there. Also as a person who is in the media this threatened the journalism space and would encourage people in the media to try as much as possible to neutralize their information and report facts, information shouldn’t be too controversial, all this should be in line with media law. She said practitioners should be on the lookout and be wary of the information they share, and also avoid using social media outlets and platforms to push their personal agendas.