Students divided over army assault
National University of lesotho ( NUL) student leaders are divided over what action to take following Sunday’s savage beating by the military.
Soldiers attending a match between lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Football Club and (NUL) Rovers at the university campus severely assaulted the students for continually provoking them through derogatory songs.
according to Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President tlhabeli Mojapele, the assault was allegedly started by lieutenant-colonel tefo Hashatsi, who had been one of the learners’ targets of abuse alongside LDF Commander lieutenant-general tlali Kamoli (pictured).
Mojapele on Monday told the Lesotho Times the issue could be resolved amicably as their members were to blame, and also narrated how the violence started.
“First of all, we should admit that we, as students, most specifically the gang that was singing provocative songs about LDF Commander lieutenant-general Kamoli, and lt-col Hashatsi, were wrong. the soldiers demanded that the singing should stop, but that gang didn’t, resulting in the assault,” said Mojapela.
Mojapela admitted the SRC was divided over what course of action to take over the assault, but he personally believed in dialogue rather than suing the military as advocated by some of the students.
“i don’t agree with suing the army over this, but rather her meeting with Rovers and LDF FC officials to talk about the issue.
“i think it is bestst that we reconcile the injured students nts and the soldiers as we are all Basotho, tho, and we will still have games with the army. We don’t need to rush into thinking about suing somebody before we hold talks about this matter,” he said.aid.
Mojapela narrated ated how the brutal assault startedrted and also measures taken by the soldiers to avert the violence.
“the singing started well before the premier mier league match began. the he songs were about the soldiersldiers and the commander, lt-gen Kamoli and laterr lt-col Hashatsi. LDF FC officials initially asked ed their Rovers counterpartserparts to stop the gang from singing the offensive nsive songs.
“in turn, the Rovers vers caretaker came to me, as the SRC president,dent, and warned me about the singing. He asked me to stop the students from singing those provocative songs as the LDF members were getting annoyed.
“i tried to approach the gang but they would not listen; instead, they intensified the singing, and were now targeting lt-col Hashatsi. the students had seen lt-col Hashatsi among the soldiers and in their songs, they started imitating his responses before the SADC Commission of inquiry (into lesotho’s instability) last month, when he was saying No COMMENT.
“When the match’s second half began, ltCol Hashatsi and some of the soldiers went to the singing students and he slapped one of them. then the brutal assault started, with the soldiers kicking and beating the students with sticks,” said Mojapela.
However, in a separate interview with the Lesotho Times, SRC Secretary General thato Ponya said letting the soldiers get away with the assault would be a betrayal of their members.
“the SRC owes students protection, which is why we need to take serious action that would deter the soldiers from ever assaulting us again.
“We are going to meet with the NUL administration about this issue. We need to remember that people were injured during this assault, so someone has to be held accountable,” said Ponya. “We need to see the soldiers showing remorse for th their actions and approaching u us for talks and not the other way r round. We can’t go to the same pe people who assaulted us and beg for r reconciliation.
“anyway, this issue now involves a nu number of stakeholders who have vested interest in it; they are ye yet to deal with it but we can’t ju just let such things go unpunished. We are considering legal actionac over the issue but the final decision on what ac action to take would be m made in due course.”
Repeated attempts to ge get a comment from the ld LDF proved fruitless, while the police yesterdaye told the Lesotho Times two dockets had be been opened over the vi violence.
“the police have op opened two dockets in co connection with the inci cident, but no one has be been arrested as investi tigations are continuing ing,” police spokesperson Clifford Molefe said.