Lesotho Times

Thugs destroy Tšenolo FM

 

. . . beat up presenter and ransack Ha-Mabote based radio station

Keiso Mohloboli

Four unidentified men stormed Tšenolo FM yesterday morning and attacked the presenter on duty before completely destroying the broadcasting equipment, which immediately took the radio station off air.
Tšokolo Toi, who was stabbed below the right eye and severely assaulted all over the body, narrated how the men barged into the Ha Mabote-based radio station, which went on air on 12 December 2012, and demanded to see the owner, Mohau Kobile, before going on the rampage.

Ts'enolo FM Presenter Tšokolo Toi
Ts’enolo FM Presenter Tšokolo Toi

“I was on air presenting a programme on public transport issues called ‘Mohahlaula’ at around 11am, when I realised there were some people at our reception area.
“I could see the men through the glass-door of the studio, and since there was nobody else around, I decided to go and see if I could help these visitors. But before I left the studio, I put on a song to keep the listeners entertained,” said the visibly shaken 37-year-old presenter.
Mr Toi said he never suspected the men could be up to no good as he approached them.
“I greeted them as I emerged from the studio, but the men did not respond. They simply asked where Ntate Kobile was.
“When I responded that I didn’t know his whereabouts, the men started assaulting me with the hammers they had been concealing all the time. I tried to defend myself, and one of the men stabbed me with a knife below the right eye.

“I started bleeding, but I continued fighting back, and then one of the men said they should just shoot me since I was giving them a problem,” said Mr Toi.
The attackers, he added, then started breaking the studio’s glass-door with their hammers, and later smashed “everything” in the studio, while one of them continued to attack him.
“The men started hammering at the glass-door, shattering it in the process. They also trashed the reception area, breaking our computers, desks, chairs and the microphones, transmitters, and recorders, in the studio and also the backroom. They seemed as if they wanted to make sure everything was destroyed, and that we went off air, which is exactly what has happened. We can’t broadcast anymore because this equipment, as you can see, had been completely destroyed. We would need to start afresh and buy new equipment for us to start operating again; this is such a blow to us.”
Mr Toi said the attack caught him by surprise as the men “looked like respectable clients”.
“The attack really caught me by surprise, as I never suspected anything.

The men didn’t even bother to cover their faces when they stormed our studio, but ran to a white Isuzu twin-cab, and sped off towards town, when I screamed for help. My boss was later called, as well as the police. The police immediately took me to the hospital,” he added.

The Tšenolo FM founder, Mr Kobile, said the incident had left him and his staff shaken.
“When I was phoned to be informed that the radio station was being destroyed, I could hardly believe the news.
“I immediately came to the station and found out that it was true that it had been destroyed.
“Right now, I cannot estimate the damage to the studio, suffice to say it could be over M100 000,” he said.

Mr Kobile, who said the station employed about 20 staff, further claimed he had his own suspicions of who could be behind the attack.
“A certain politician told his supporters at a rally held recently that he hates me and my radio station, and I suspect he is behind this attack,” Mr Kobile said.

Contacted for comment, the Officer Commanding Ha-Mabote Police Station, Superintendent Phahla Letsosa said no-one had been arrested in connection with the attack.
“We have kick-started our investigations into the case but nobody has been arrested so far,” Superintendent Letsosa said.
“However, I would want to advise radio station-owners to engage private security companies so they can be provided with protection around the clock.
“Such an attack might create panic among the presenters and prevent them from doing their job freely.”

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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