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Minister orders probe into match violence

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — Sports Minister ‘Mathabiso Lepono has ordered a probe into the violence that marred the Vodacom Premier League match between Matlama and Lioli a fortnight ago.
The fate of the high-profile match, which was abandoned in the 77th minute with Matlama 3-0 up, is expected to be known by today.
But whatever the Premier League’s management committee decides, Lepono wants the circumstances that led to the violence unravelled.
She has ordered the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) to set up an inquiry into the Pitso Ground mayhem.
“I met with the sports commission last Thursday and I instructed them to set up an inquiry that will investigate events on that day and make recommendations,” Lepono told the Lesotho Times on Monday.
“We can’t speak directly to the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa).”
LSRC chief executive officer Kholoang Mokalanyane said the commission was waiting for a report from Lefa before the inquiry could commence.
“We are just waiting for a report from Lefa and we haven’t given them a deadline,” Mokalanyane said on Tuesday.
“I don’t have details but from the little I’ve heard it’s very shocking.
“You can expect scuffles at a game but not a person being shot.”
One person was shot and wounded while two others were seriously injured during the violence.
Four vehicles were also smashed as battles between supporters spilled onto nearby streets.
It’s not yet clear what triggered the violence, but it was just after Matlama had scored a third goal against the defending champions.
No arrests have been made as yet in connection with the violence, according to police spokesperson Masupha Masupha.
“We still don’t have suspects,” he said on Tuesday.
“It’s still a sensitive situation with some people still in hospital.”
Masupha added: “There have not been any arrests made because of the nature of the crowd that was there (at Pitso Ground).
“Even the people who were injured are unsure of what happened to them.”
Masupha said more co-ordination and planning between police and clubs would be needed in the future for games of this magnitude.
“To me the security was there but maybe it wasn’t enough,” he said.
“The preparation for this game should have been different – it should have been treated as a special case.”
The fixture attracted over 1 000 people, arguably the biggest crowd at a domestic football match in recent years.
“The way people were seated was also a major problem,” Masupha said of the seating arrangement at the match.
“It’s clear that we have to sit down with clubs so that there is a better understanding that will see things done on time.”
Meanwhile, the Premier League was last night expected to come up with a verdict on the outcome on the ill-fated match.
The decision is expected to be announced at a press conference this afternoon.
The league’s management committee first met last Thursday to tackle the issue but had to defer the matter to this Tuesday because one of the sides involved had not submitted its report.
Passing of the verdict was, once again, postponed to last night although the Premier League did not give reasons.
The outcome is eagerly awaited by both teams, who are vying for the championship.
“There are three possibilities open to us – to award Lioli three points and three goals, to award Matlama three points and three goals, or to replay the match,” Premier League chairman Tlholo Letete said last week.
“Those are the three options we have, or a fine for both teams for failing to control their supporters.”
Another possibility is to order the teams to continue from where they left off and play the remaining 13 minutes.
Lioli want the match awarded to them because they insist Matlama were unable to control their fans and, as hosts, offered insufficient security.
Matlama, on the other hand, want the maximum points because they claim it was Lioli fans who instigated the fracas.
They also contend that they were commanding a comfortable 3-0 lead at the time the match was abandoned.

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