By Ntsebeng Motsoeli and Lineo Pene
MASERU — Lerotholi Polytechnic has fired a junior employee who criticised the college’s bosses in a phone-in programme on PC FM radio station.
Lucia Ramashamole, 53, was dismissed from her job of nine years in January after she commented on the strikes that rocked the tertiary education sector in September.
This was after she had allegedly told a local radio station that her bosses were “careless” and had run down the college.
Ramashamole was first suspended for three months in September before being sacked in January. She claims she was charged with revealing the “college’s secrets”.
Ramashamole admits she criticised her bosses but denies that her statements during the phone-in programme revealed any sensitive information about the college.
Ramashamole is now challenging her dismissal and has vowed to fight until she is reinstated.
She claims she spoke to the radio in her capacity as an executive member of the Lerotholi Polytechnic Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff Union.
“I was commenting on radio on behalf of our staff union at Fokothi alongside members of staff unions from the NUL (National University of Lesotho) and the Limkokwing (University of Creative Technology,” Ramoshamole said.
The radio station had invited unions from the three colleges to comment on the strikes.
“I spoke there as an executive member of the Lerotholi Polytechnic Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff Union.
“The comments I made were later used against me and I was suspended.”
Ramoshamole was suspended on September 20, 2011 soon after the radio interview.
She was then summoned for a disciplinary hearing where she was charged with revealing college secrets, theft, and attempted theft.
She says she could not attend the hearing because she had an appointment with her doctor.
When she brought the sick leave note to prove that she had been to a doctor a member of the disciplinary committee did not believe her.
“I was shocked when one member of the disciplinary committee went behind my back to seek the authenticity of my sick leave.
“I felt disrespected and humiliated when they asked for my medical booklet to see what I was suffering from.
“But of course I refused because those are very confidential documents they were asking for,” she added.
That was followed by a series of hearings and eventually she was found guilty of all counts.
Ramoshamole was dismissed and ordered to vacate the school’s house.
She however managed to get a court order interdicting her eviction. Her appeal is yet to be heard.
“No one has a right to fire me.
“What I said on the radio was not from me as an individual but the concerns of the union.
“They should be fighting the union not me as a person.
“I want my job back.”
The college’s rector, Tsietsi Lebakae, was said to be “too busy” to comment.