The Lesotho chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) is
organizing armed guards to protect the homes of journalists who have been receiving
death threats, writes Mzimkhulu Sithetho.
Misa said that several journalists had been receiving anonymous threatening calls in the run-up to the election held last weekend. Callers accused the journalists of leading a campaign to cause confusion in the country and in the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

Early indications are that the poll has placed the LCD firmly back in power, beating back a challenge by the All Basotho Convention, set up by former LCD Communications Minister Tom Thabane.

One of those targeted is Thabo Thakalekoala, who is Misa regional chairperson as well as SABC and BBC correspondent in the mountain kingdom. 

In the most recent incident, Thakalekoala said he awoke to loud banging on his front door at about 1am on 10 February – about a week before the election. His harassers called to him to open the door to receive a gift: a tombstone intended to "minimise the cost of his funeral" as he would die before the elections. When he refused to venture outside, his harassers responded by warning him that his "days were numbered" and that his wife and children would soon be mourning his passing.

"I fear for my life. I don't know what is going to happen if the LCD is voted back into power", he said.

Thakalekoala has since registered an official statement with the police. Members of the Lesotho Police have questioned eyewitnesses.

Thakalekoala and other journalists have previously received death threats over their reporting.

Misa said it condemned the intimidation of media professionals who are required to report accurately and truthfully on all aspects of life in Lesotho.

The organization appealed to Police Commissioner Malejaka Letooane to ensure the safety of the journalists. It also appealed to the Lesotho nation to practice tolerance and promote an environment that is conducive to media freedom and freedom of expression.