Killing the Messengers

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Lesotho imposed a national curfew this week following the murder of a prominent journalist, as authorities attempt to address rising crime rates in the small southern African kingdom, the Guardian reported Thursday.

Unknown assailants shot and killed radio presenter Ralikonelo “Leqhashasha” Joki as he left his workplace Sunday night.

Media groups swiftly condemned the killing, calling it an attempt to silence journalists. Joki’s show was often critical of politicians and government policy. The late presenter broke a story in 2021 about five politicians accused of involvement in the illegal alcohol trade.

Press freedom advocates said Joki had received death threats and had phantom Facebook accounts created in his name in the months before his death.

Following his murder, the government imposed a nationwide curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., and revoked all firearm licenses. Anyone violating the curfew would face a fine or up to two years in prison, according to police officials.

Observers noted that the curfew is also part of a government effort to reduce gun violence and the spiking murder rate in Lesotho.

Lesotho has the third-highest homicide rate in the world, behind El Salvador and Jamaica, according to the latest report by World Population Review.

Despite the government’s efforts, press groups have been critical of the country’s sluggish justice system.

They pointed to the attempted murder of former Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, who was shot in 2016. Authorities arrested five members of the Lesotho Defense Force in 2017. Their trial is expected to take place in July.

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