The shocking discovering of local award winning journalist, Junior Bonase, has left many distraught. Both fellow journalists and the community alike are in disbelief. Some speculation have been that his death could be related to an investigative story he was working on, however, there has been no conclusive evidence to verify that.
Bonase’s body was found next to the road on the N1 near Heuningspruit, north of Kroonstad, last Tuesday night at around 23:00 by a passer-by who alerted the police. According to police spokesperson Colonel Thandi Mbambo, there were injuries to Bonase’s face, however, preliminary post mortem results from the pathology lab came back as inconclusive.
His brother, Mohau Leile, said that the family was still reeling from shock. “We are not okay, this was much unexpected and the way it all happened. The thought of him dying where he did is the last thing we expected,” said Leile.
Last year, Bonase was nominated for a regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award in the investigative category. He won a regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award in 2015 in the online category. And a week before his untimely death, he was elected chairperson of the Free State Media Cooperative.
Khayalethu Mtsantsa, spokesperson for the Free State Media Cooperative, said that the media fraternity had lost a great advocate for the development of media in the province. “Junior and I worked together many years ago. He was a very energetic person, cooperative and very passionate about media. As his colleagues we have been deeply hurt by his death,” said Mtsantsa.
“We view this incident as an isolated incident, because in the Free State we do not experience violence against journalists. We are very shocked that such a gruesome murder occurred that is why we have been encouraging the police to thoroughly investigate what happened,” he added.
OFM News Manager and fellow investigative journalist, Cathy Dodlo, said that Bonase’s death might not have been targeted at him as a journalist. “But I don’t think we can be oblivious to the dangers faced by not only journalists but by those who stand for the truth, especially investigative journalists. I hope that his murder will be properly investigated should it turn into a murder case,” said Dlodlo.
Bonase will be buried in his home town, Springfontein, on Saturday. – Seithati Semenokane