Journalists harassed at LCD presser
SUPPORTERS of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) insulted and intimidated journalists during Tuesday’s press briefing on the arrest and detention of party deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi.
Mr Mokhosi handed himself over to the police on Monday morning after being summoned to assist with the investigation into the disappearance and subsequent murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng.
The former Defence minister was yesterday charged with PC Khetheng’s murder and remanded in custody, joining four police officers also charged with the crime.
Journalists who attended the press conference at the LCD’s headquarters in Maseru were met with scores of irate party supporters who demanded proof of the scribes’ identities, saying there were some people they didn’t want at the briefing.
The Lesotho Times crew was also ordered to identify themselves to a coterie of LCD supporters who vowed that only a few selected media practitioners would be allowed at the briefing which was initially scheduled for 2pm but started 30 minutes later.
Journalists who arrived at the press briefing late were unable to enter the building after the door was closed to prevent the agitated supporters from also entering.
As the briefing went on, the LCD supporters knocked on the door demanding to participate in the press conference while others sang.
As the pandemonium mounted, LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata, his deputy Apesi Ratšele, youth league secretary-general Potso Shao and party elder Khotso Matla ended the press conference and went outside to calm their restive supporters.
“When we arrived, the gate was closed with party supporters armed with stones demanding that I produce identification document. They eventually opened the gate for me but I had to endure verbal abuse at the door as I couldn’t enter the party offices,” a local journalist who requested anonymity said.
She asked Mr Shao: “How are we going to go out knowing that our lives are in danger?”
As the journalists were leaving the premises escorted by the party officials, the supporters hurled unprintable insults at them.
However, the LCD officials condemned the supporters’ conduct, with Mr Sekata saying: “We didn’t call you (journalists) here to be humiliated. We are sorry, maybe our timing was wrong.”
For his part, Mr Shao said the supporters were agitated by some journalists who “reported negatively” on the party.
“No one will be hurt. We are going to escort you to make sure that no one gets hurt. Our supporters are extremely angered by the prevailing situation,” Mr Shao said.
LCD supporters also harassed journalists earlier this month during the grilling of party leader Mothetjoa Metsing, who is also LCD leader, by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences earlier this month over suspicious deposits that were made into his accounts three years ago.