MAKHARI Tsietsi, a 22-year-old student at Lerotholi Polytechnic, was allegedly murdered in the school campus last Tuesday.
The tragic circumstances of his death raise serious questions about the manner we are running our institutions of higher learning.
Tsietsi was allegedly battered to death after he refused to undergo bizarre initiation rites for first-year students at Lerotholi Polytechnic.
For that he paid with his life.
What a waste!
We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.
The circumstances surrounding Tsietsi’s death can best be described as a national shame.
It is the clearest indication yet that something is seriously wrong with our national psyche.
It also paints a sordid picture of what is wrong with our educational institutions.
In the wake of Tsietsi’s murder more shocking details of what happens behind the walls of the college are beginning to emerge.
First-year students are routinely tortured by their senior students allegedly with the complicity of some wayward lecturers.
Students are reportedly stripped naked and forced to stand in a cold shower.
Others are drowned in bathtubs. Some are forced to gulp buckets of water at a single go.
Those who resist are routinely assaulted.
We understand this has been going on at the college for years.
It appears no one has been bold enough to put a stop to this nonsense.
The little that college authorities have done to stop the torture has proved woefully inadequate.
Last week’s death is the first that is directly linked to the tough initiation practices at Lerotholi.
The death of Tsietsi should give us a chance to do a serious introspection on the way we are raising our children and the manner our colleges are being run.
If nothing is done in the wake of the student’s death we risk raising a generation of spoiled, directionless hooligans.
We think college authorities have not done enough to protect first-year students.
While a few students are said to have been expelled for abusing first-years the action has not been drastic enough to stop the practice.
This is why barbaric acts like what we saw last week continue to take place with impunity.
We think the authorities at Lerotholi are in serious breach of their commitment to protect students under their care.
They should bow their heads in shame for allowing a defenceless student to be harmed under their watch.
In a normal set-up those tasked with ensuring the safety of students at Lerotholi should have resigned last week.
No parent sends his child to school and expect to receive him back in a body bag.
Of course, authorities at Lerotholi have expressed regret over the death of Tsietsi.
But contrition will not bring the boy back to life.
We are worried that some students have come to identify with the oppressive initiation culture at Lerotholi.
Worringly, they have built a rapport with “the oppressor”.
Students have internalised this dark and sordid culture.
This is why some of them who were interviewed last week bizarrely defended the initiation programme as “campus culture”.
This explains why there is a veil of secrecy about what really is going on behind the walls of the college.
We think there is really nothing “cultural” about battering a fellow student to death.
That “culture” is barbaric and shameful.
It must be rooted out.
Much more disturbing are allegations that some college lecturers are behind the culture of torture at Lerotholi.
If this is established to be true the law must be allowed to descend heavily on the deviant lecturers.
Such lecturers have no place at any academic institution where freedom of thought should be sacrosanct.
The government, through the relevant ministry, should use Tsietsi’s death to right what is so wrong with our institutions of higher learning.
His death should not be in vain.
But most importantly those responsible for Tsietsi’s alleged murder must face justice. His blood is crying out for justice.