LEROTHOLI Polytechnic College has indefinitely suspended the 12 students who were arrested last week at the Mohokare River on suspicion that they were part of the deadly initiation rites at the school.
The students were arrested on 24 August 2018 after the police were tipped off that they had been seen in the river where another student drowned in one of the initiation rites in July this year.
The body of 21-year-old Rethabile Mosito was discovered at the institution’s football pitch in the early hours of 21 July. He was the sixth student to die since 2009 as a result of the polytechnic students’ initiation culture.
The postmortem said Mr Mosito died of drowning and suspicions are that died in one of the infamous initiation rituals.
And acting on a tip-off on 24 August, the police arrested 12 students who were found at the river where they allegedly conduct the initiation rituals. Other students fled from the scene.
The suspects are aged from 18 to 27 and they remain in custody as police continue with their investigations.
In the wake of Mr Mosito’s death, the school authorities threatened stern action against any students who participate in the infamous initiation rituals.
This week Lerotholi Polytechnic College registrar, Hlomohang Majara, said they had immediately suspended the students pending the police investigation and the subsequent trial.
“We have suspended the 12 students who were arrested while we await the outcome of the police investigations and the trial,” Ms Majara said.
Ms Majara said the school management was concerned that the students were still continuing with the bullying despite the negative implications on their education.
In July this year, the Fokothi management and the council announced that they would engage the relevant government ministries to impose a scholarship black-listing on students who participated in the initiation rituals, be they perpetrators or voluntary victims.
The black-listing is intended to expose the participants so that they may not accepted in any other tertiary institution and so that they may not be eligible for government scholarly funds.
Ms Majara said the idea, even though not yet formalised, has already been received well by the Education minister Ntoi Rapapa.
“The initiative has not been formalised yet,” Ms Majara said.
“It has however, been blessed by the school council. The minister seems to agree with the management and the council on the idea. All that is left is for the school management, the council and the relevant government ministries to discuss and ultimately formalise it.”
Meanwhile, the entire Fokothi student representative council has resigned following a fallout with the police officers investigating in the initiation ritual.
The SRC president, Motlatsi ‘Mefane, told the Lesotho Times that they were bullied and threatened by a police officer who accused them of influencing the rituals hence they decided to resign.
Mr ‘Mefane said he fled to South Africa after he had been informed that the police officers investigating the Fokothi killings were looking for him and were “furious”.
“I heard on Saturday (25 August) that the police were looking for me and they were reportedly furious. I ran away to South Africa because I was afraid they would hurt me. I only went to the police station the following Monday (1 September 2018) where I was told by the investigating police officer that all the SRC members would be beaten up because we were influencing students to do the initiation ritual
“We then decided to resign from the SRC because we have done all we could to dissuade fellow students from carrying on with the initiation rituals but our efforts have come to naught,” Mr ‘Mefane said.