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First-year student killed at Fokothi

by Lesotho Times
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Nthatuoa Koeshe

ANOTHER first-year student has died at the increasingly infamous Lerotholi Polytechnic orientation week.

The 21-year-old Rethabile Mosito’s body was found at the institution’s football pitch in the early hours of Saturday morning. He becomes the sixth victim of the school’s horrific bullying and torture since 2009.

Mr Mosito reportedly died on 20 July 2018, the last day of the orientation week. He had recently been admitted to study Business Management at the institution and becomes the sixth victim of the college’s horrific orientation.

The police this week said they have so far arrested eight students in connection with the death. The eight are said to be assisting with the investigation.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said although it was unclear when the suspects would be arraigned before the courts, he hopes that justice will be served for the sake of the bereaved family.

“The police are still looking into the matter and so far, we have arrested eight suspects who are also students from the institution,” Supt Mopeli said.

He said the cause of Mositi’s death is suspected to be the “well-known ill-treatment which the first-year students” are reportedly subjected to at Lerotholi Polytechnic.

Lerotholi Polytechnic director Professor Spirit Tlali this week said the exact cause of the death is still being investigated.

“The initial investigations however, indicate that the deceased was tortured by fellow students along the Mohokare River, on Friday 20 July 2018 in the afternoon.”

He said the college has suspended all first-year activities from 30 July until 3 August 2018 to make way for the funeral and also implement measures to end torture of students by fellow learners.

He said over the years the college has expelled numerous students who have been accused of torturing fellow learners with the hope that they would end the scourge.

“It is disheartening that the practice is still continuing.”

Answering to claims that there were reports about the involvement of lecturers in the torture, Prof Tlali dismissed the allegations and said management and staff have instead grappled with finding ways to end the sad episodes.

“The management and staff have in fact tried to implement strategies to eliminate this barbaric and inhumane behaviour. At this stage, we welcome all input from individuals and society groups,” Prof Tlali.

Since 2009, Lerotholi Polytechnic has been dogged by deaths resulting from torture at first-year students’ orientation. Senior students every year take first year learners to the Mohokare River where they are tortured as a form of “initiation”.

In 2009, a student died of torture by older students while another two died in similar circumstances in 2012.

Motlatsi Matete (19) who was studying Construction Management at the college was last been seen alive on July 23 2014 together with his classmate Tokelo Masiu (22). Mr Matete’s body was discovered near Mohokare River on the 24th while that of his friend was found two days later.

Both were from the Mafeteng district.

Four students, Abiel Mokete from Le-Coop in Mafeteng, Refiloe Mohale from Wepener in Mafeteng, Moloi Makoanyane from Baroeng in Butha-Buthe and Tseko Sebata from Likhutlong were charged with murder. However, according to Prof Tlali, the case is yet to be finalised.

In 2016, six new students from the same institution were battered into submission and dipped into cold water until they became weary and could hardly swim. All six had to be treated for post-traumatic stress.

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