Five members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) went on trial yesterday for the attempted murder of a newspaper editor.

Lloyd Mutungamiri of the privately owned Lesotho Times suffered near-fatal gunshot wounds after an attack outside his home in the capital Maseru in July last year.

The alleged assassination attempt followed the newspaper’s publication of an article alleging the outgoing LDF head, Tlali Kamoli, was to receive an exit package of approximately US$3.5million (R47.6m).

He was shot twice and left in a critical condition after a bullet shattered his lower jaw, requiring him to undergo extensive facial surgery.

A brigadier and four soldiers will stand trial for the attack.

Rights group Amnesty International said the trial needed to send a message that the targeting of journalists would no longer be tolerated in Lesotho.

“The press must be allowed to do their job without living in constant fear of reprisals,” said Deprose Muchena, the Amnesty director for southern Africa.

“Mutungamiri’s world has been turned upside down since the shooting.

"He was forced to abandon his job and flee the country.”

Muchena maintained hope that through a fair, independent and impartial trial, justice would be served and journalists could carry out their work in a safe environment in the politically unstable country. 

- CAJ News