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Deputy rector ‘assaults’ guard over parking

by Lesotho Times
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. . . LCE in the news for wrong reasons hardly a month after two senior members of staff brawl over parking space

Billy Ntaote

Lesotho College of Education (LCE) lecturers are demanding the suspension of the institution’s Deputy Rector-Administration, Lehlohonolo Manamolela, for allegedly assaulting a security guard over parking space.
The disgruntled staff started picketing at the teacher-training institute on Tuesday this week, but were snubbed by the college Rector, John Oliphant, who accused them of not respecting his administration.

According to the petition submitted through the workers’ representative body, the Lesotho College of Education Staff Union (LECESU), Mr Manamolela must be suspended while his alleged assault of Tšepo Lekhooa is being investigated.

Mr Lekhooa works for Safeguard Management Services — a local company that provides the LCE with security — and was reportedly beaten-up by Mr Manamolela on April 8 for ignoring his directive not to allow anyone to park his or her vehicle at a certain spot on the LCE premises.

According to the LECESU Secretary General, Mpholo Leoisa, the staff decided to petition Dr Oliphant after realising no disciplinary measures had been taken against Mr Manamolela, yet two other members of staff — bursar Lisebo Ramaili-Ntsane and lecturer ‘Makeletso Ntaote — were indefinitely suspended last month for fighting over parking space.

In the petition signed by Mr Leoisa, the workers accuse management of selective justice, which they allege borders of sexism.

Part of the petition reads: “The union, LECESU, wrote to the management on April 9 2014, requesting the rector to institute disciplinary proceedings against the DRA (Deputy Rector-Administration). No action, to date, has been taken in that direction.
“The rector, in meetings we have held with management, dismisses this matter as hearsay.
“We are aware that a commission has been clandestinely set-up to investigate this matter. As this happens, the alleged perpetrator graces the LCE grounds as if nothing has happened.
“The bursar and lecturer were sent away on suspension for violating the staff code of conduct, and why the DRA cannot face the same fate is mindboggling.”

The union further says it wants to see Dr Oliphant “showing leadership and acting in the best interest of the college” without bias.
“Anything short of action in this matter will cast serious aspersions on the rector’s acumen to steer this college in the desired direction, where the rights of all staff-members are respected and upheld. Justice delayed is justice denied,” the petition further reads.

However, Mr Leoisa on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times Dr Oliphant snubbed the petition, allegedly accusing the union of being disrespectful of his administration.
“He actually told us that he was not going to receive our petition as he had particularly informed us that we should not hold the demonstration that delivered a petition to his office,” Mr Leoisa said.
“But it is our feeling that Manamolela’s presence at work is going to jeopardise investigations into the allegations he is facing.
“The union also holds the view that Ramaili-Ntsane and Ntaote should not be seen to be discriminated against as they are women, and this is what is going to happen should the same suspension not happen to Manamolela, who is a man.”

Contacted for comment, Dr Oliphant told the Lesotho Times the union had not afforded the college enough time to prepare for Tuesday’s demonstration, hence his decision not to receive the petition.
“I received a letter notifying me about their petition at 4:20pm yesterday (Monday) and I immediately wrote back to the union, informing them I would not receive it as they had not given management reasonable notice to prepare,” Dr Oliphant said.

“The college was supposed to have prepared for the disruption of classes that occurred when the union members were demonstrating on campus.”

The rector also said the demand to have Mr Manamolela suspended was “ill-conceived” as the LCE management would not be dictated to, on how to effect the college’s disciplinary code.
“All I have heard regarding this issue are allegations. I don’t have evidence to support their claim that one of the management staff pushed around a security guard and they are comparing this claim to a case (regarding Ms Ramaili-Ntsane and Dr Ntaote) that had clear evidence,” Dr Oliphant said.
“I will not act on hearsay as the people who are making the allegations have failed to provide tangible evidence against Manamolela, to the committee investigating the issue.”

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