MASERU — Two first-year Lerotholi Polytechnic students were beaten to death during an initiation ceremony for newcomers on Saturday.
Police spokesman Masupha Masupha confirmed that they had since launched investigations to identify the killers.
He said the two students were aged 18 and 32, respectively.
Masupha said one body was found dumped in the school campus while the other was found lying outside the college’s premises.
One of the students suffered nasal bleeding while the other had bruises all over the body.
The police spokesman said they suspect the two were victims of a practice that sees first-year students being subjected to torture as part of the initiation process.
“This practice has been going on for years now. In 2009 a male student was killed after other students ill-treated him and now two more have died. This needs to be dealt with immediately,” Masupha said.
The registrar of Lerotholi Polytechnic, Hlomohang Majara, said seven students had since been called for questioning by the police.
“We hope that we will find information that will lead us to the people who did this. It is unfortunate that students can die like that. Such incidents are tainting the image of this institution,” Majara said.
This is not the first time that students have died during an initiation process at the college.
In 2009, a first-year student Makhari Tsietsi died after he was assaulted by some students and left under a cold shower as part of the initiation practice.
Tsietsi was found in an unconscious state but died a few hours later.
Last November, another male student escaped death by a whisker after he fled from his torturers.
He sustained serious injuries and had to be hospitalised for days.
Four male students who were linked to the attack were eventually expelled from the college.
A case of murder against them is still pending in court.
Speaking in an interview with the Lesotho Times on Tuesday, Majara said the college’s management was in shock following the students’ deaths.
“We are sad, sorry and disappointed by the deaths. The management is working together with the police to investigate the matter to find those responsible for the deaths,” she said.
She said they had asked the police to intervene and help root out the practice.
“We have tried to stop this by imposing a permanent ban on perpetrators but we have not managed to stop the practice.
“We thought things would be better again in recent years when the school stopped providing houses of residence within the campus.
“But somehow they still managed to plan and do these unfortunate acts and end other people’s lives,” Majara said.
“We hope to find out what is really going on. We do not understand this ill-treatment practice because the students are so secretive about it.”