Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Zimbabwe Journalist Shot in Lesotho
July 12, 2016
Herald Reporter

Zimbabwean journalist and Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri was shot and seriously injured by unknown assailants at his house in Maseru, Lesotho, in unclear circumstances on Saturday midnight. He was found bleeding in his car with a bullet in his jaw by his wife Tsitsi Matope, who had heard several gunshots coming from outside their house at Thamae residential area. On Sunday, Matope was quoted saying she suspected the army of attempting to assassinate her husband following stories that had been published.

“They wanted to kill him. I’m sure when they finished shooting, they were convinced that they had killed him. The entire window on the driver’s side is shattered. I’m sure they’re shocked that he’s still alive,” Matope said.

Matope said when she heard gunshots, she screamed for help and went outside with neighbours to investigate. “When we heard the gunshots, we were startled. We came out with neighbours and rushed my husband to a private hospital and he was then referred to a bigger hospital.

“They opened fire on him soon after he entered the driveway. When they shot him, he lost control of his car and rammed into parked cars,” she was quoted as saying. He sustained serious injuries and a dental surgeon is expected to operate on him. According to media reports, police are now reportedly guarding both his hospital ward and his home.

Matope said she had no doubt that the shooting was linked to a recent story published by the newspaper revealing secret negotiations about an exit package for Lesotho’s army commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli.

The army chief was unhappy with the story, which suggested that he was demanding more than R40 million. Mutungamiri and the reporter who wrote the story were briefly detained by police.

It is reported that the newspaper later published a hard-hitting article in a satirical column titled “The Scrutator,” further infuriating the army commander. Police then arrested the publisher of the newspaper, Basildon Peta, and charged him with defamation and crimen injuria.

The authorities accused him of writing the column. Matope said the army must be held responsible for the heinous shooting. “I know that the shooting is related to the army story. I don’t even suspect or think — I know it’s related. It’s related to that. They picked him for questioning, together with the reporter who wrote the story involving the army commander,” said Matope.

“They were interrogated and after that they were asked to apologise. They apologised and, after that case, the authorities started complaining about a satirical column called The Scrutator. They wanted to know the name of the writer. My husband told them he’s not Scrutator because even before he joined the paper, the column existed.

“The police told my husband that the paper was undermining the government and mocking the army commander. They said you Zimbabweans wouldn’t do it in your own country. They said you’re here in Lesotho to destroy our country, the same way you destroyed your own country. It was on a Friday.

“By Monday, police ordered my husband to leave his passport with them, in a bid to ensure that Peta (the publisher) would surrender himself to the police. Peta eventually went to the police and they ended up charging him.”

She said her husband will have to be evacuated to South Africa because the family feels unsafe in Lesotho. In September 2014, Mutungamiri and Senior Reporter, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, were arrested over a story which appeared in the Lesotho Times edition of September 19-25, 2014.

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