October 6, 2003

Joe Molefi, acclaimed journalist and human rights activist, died

Joe Molefi has died in Lesotho on September 29, aged 73. After his basic education in South Africa, Molefi's character as a human rights champion began showing during his time at Wits University, where he became a member of the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign in 1952. His active participation in the campaign cost him a medical studies degree he was pursuing. From 1952 onwards he started his media career as a co-editor of Mafube, a political journal of Mafri News Service.

This was disrupted when between 1956 and 1961, Molefi, together with 29 other members of the African National Congress, South African Trade Union Movement, and the South African Communist Party, was charged with treason. After the treason trial, in which all the accused where found not guilty, he went into exile in Lesotho, where he stayed with his family until his death. It was during his stay in Lesotho that he entered journalism in earnest, moved by the desire to develop a career in the challenging profession. His ambition was to become an active observer and interpreter of events in Southern Africa. He established himself as a most reliable correspondent of major media news agencies such as the Associated Press, and The World News and Post newspapers, both of Johannesburg. He also corresponded for the Argus Africa News Services, British Broadcasting Corporation, The World Service, Reuters, Radio France International, The Irish Times and the Africa Report Magazine.

From 1961 to 1963, together with a colleague, Nana Mahomo, he operated a London-based publication called Crisis and Change, which reviewed political events in South Africa. He also worked for the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) as Public Relations Officer, and for Radio Lesotho as director of news division. From August 1990 to December 1993, Joe Molefi worked as the director of EDICISA. He came to the organisation with a vast experience on media issues in Southern Africa, and it was through his commitment, dedication and hard work that made EDICISA what it is today - a leading ecumenical news agency in Southern Africa. (African Church Information Service, Harare)

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