Stu­dents di­vided over army as­sault

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

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.


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