Armed LCS of­fi­cers storm ra­dio sta­tion

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

THREE armed Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices (LCS) mem­bers yes­ter­day stormed Tha­hakhube FM stu­dios to stop a cur­rent af­fairs show in which LCS Staff As­so­ci­a­tion Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Le­bona­joang Ramo­ha­lali was talk­ing about the re­cently-en­acted Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Act (2016).

Dur­ing the pro­gramme, ti­tled Morn­ing Par­lia­ment, Mr Ramo­ha­lali said the new law only fo­cused on the of­fences and pun­ish­ments for staff and not on their wel­fare.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the sta­tion’s news depart­ment As­sis­tant Man­ager Moseketsi Nkuebe, they were rudely in­ter­rupted by “three men with big guns who de­manded that we end the pro­gramme as they wanted to speak to me and Ramo­ha­lali”.

“The men who stormed our sta­tion were gi­ants. Two of them were not in uni­form while the third one was in full LCS uni­form,” said a vis­i­bly shaken Ms Nkuebe.

“One of them called me to where he was by wag­ging his fin­ger. At the time, we were still live since the mi­cro­phones were still on. I was very scared and didn’t know what to do. I felt help­less.”

She said the three men asked why the sta­tion had af­forded Mr Ramo­ha­lali an op­por­tu­nity to talk about the new law with­out telling them they would dis­cuss the is­sue on the pro­gramme.

“They also asked why I had al­lowed Ramo­ha­lali to talk about the new law when he had no right to do so since he was sus­pended. They also de­manded, in an in­tim­i­dat­ing way, that I re­tract men­tion­ing their pres­ence on the ra­dio,” Ms Nkuebe said.

“I tried to ex­plain that I would give them an op­por­tu­nity to set the record straight if they felt ag­grieved. How­ever, they shouted ‘we want to set the record straight now!’ and I gave one of them a seat and the mi­cro­phone to state their point of view.”

Ms Nkuebe said she was still rat­tled hours af­ter the in­ci­dent.

“I am still shaken. I still don’t un­der­stand why they did that. They didn’t come in peace and en­joyed in­tim­i­dat­ing us as Ramo­ha­lali watched in si­lence and didn’t move,” she said.

“As a fe­male jour­nal­ist, I feel very in­se­cure and afraid that any­thing can hap­pen when ex­e­cut­ing my du­ties.

“I feel threat­ened and sup­pressed and this is also go­ing to cause self­cen­sor­ship not only as a jour­nal­ist, but as a fe­male jour­nal­ist for that mat­ter. I don’t feel like I know what democ­racy is any­more.”

She added: “They even mocked me about be­ing sin­gle and gave me their con­tact de­tails, say­ing one of them would be go­ing to my fam­ily to pay lobola (bride price). I re­ally felt in­sulted and hu­mil­i­ated, more so dur­ing African Women’s month. They made me feel like I was hunt­ing for men.”

Mr Ramo­ha­lali, who is also the LCS Staff As­so­ci­a­tion’s act­ing pres­i­dent, said he was still com­ing to terms with what hap­pened at Tha­hakhube FM stu­dios. Mr Ramo­ha­lali was sus­pended from the LCS in Jan­uary for speak­ing to the me­dia with­out au­tho­ri­sa­tion.

“I fail to un­der­stand what kind of demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion we are liv­ing in. I per­son­ally don’t have a prob­lem with them, but it is scary for some­one who is not used to them. They over­stepped their mark, and I think they owe the ra­dio sta­tion an apol­ogy,” he said.

“In as much as I was sus­pended, I didn’t go to the ra­dio sta­tion rep­re­sent­ing the LCS. I went there in my ca­pac­ity as the Staff As­so­ci­a­tion’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral and the act­ing pres­i­dent.”

Mr Ramo­ha­lali also said two of the men were LCS Com­mis­sioner ’Matefo Makhalemele’s body guards while the other one was the agency’s Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent Neo Mopeli.

Con­tacted for com­ment, ASP Mopeli said they owed “no one an apol­ogy as we did not do any­thing wrong”.

“There is noth­ing to apol­o­gise for,” he said.

“Ramo­ha­lali had no right to talk about the Staff As­so­ci­a­tion’s is­sues since he is on an in­ter­dic­tion and its staffers are mem­bers of the LCS. This is not just some as­so­ci­a­tion in the vil­lage he was talk­ing about here.”

ASP Mopeli also said they did not in­tim­i­date any­body dur­ing their “visit”.

“It would be sur­pris­ing if Nkuebe said she was in­tim­i­dated dur­ing our visit be­cause we even ironed out the is­sue,” he said.

Com­ment­ing on the in­ci­dent, Me­dia In­sti­tute of South­ern Africa-le­sotho chap­ter Di­rec­tor Tsebo Matšasa con­demned the LCS mem­bers’ “ar­ro­gant be­hav­iour” say­ing it was a “threat to me­dia free­dom”.

Mr Matšasa said while he was yet to be fully ap­praised of the in­ci­dent, “all the same, that ar­ro­gant be­hav­iour is not war­ranted”.

“They erred and the ra­dio sta­tion can sue them if it wants. Peo­ple should not take out their frus­tra­tion on the me­dia. As MISA-LESO-tho, we con­demn such be­hav­iour. It is tan­ta­mount to cen­sor­ship and de­nies so­ci­ety its right to know and ac­cess in­for­ma­tion,” he said adding there were pro­ce­dures that could be fol­lowed if they felt ag­grieved by the pro­gramme.

I feel threat­ened and sup­pressed and this is also go­ing to cause self-cen­sor­ship not only as a jour­nal­ist, but as a fe­male jour­nal­ist for that mat­ter. I don’t feel like I know what democ­racy is any­more

THA­HAKHUBE FM news As­sis­tant Man­ager Moseketsi Nkuebe.

LCS Staff As­so­ci­a­tion Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Le­bona­joang ramo­ha­lali.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.