MASERU — Lerotholi Polytechnic Rector Tsietsi Lebakae yesterday said all students who took part in the initiation ceremony in which two students died earlier this month will be expelled.
Lebakae was speaking at an emotional memorial service for the late first-year students that was held at the college.
Lebakae said the deaths of the two students — Motlatsi Noko and Bokang Mosala — had damaged the institution’s reputation.
He said five students had since appeared in court to answer charges of murder.
“The suspects are in police custody and they have already appeared in court.
“We are also investigating other students who were also there during these shameful deeds and they are going to be expelled as we don’t train thugs at this school,” Lebakae said.
He added that their intention at the college was to mold students who could become useful citizens and not thugs.
Lebakae also denied that management was aware of the torture going on at the college.
“How could we let students ill-treat others? We cannot tolerate that sort of behaviour,” Lebakae said.
The dean of students’ affairs at Lerotholi, Maswatzi Nkome, said the two students were reportedly taken to Mohokare River opposite Lesotho Agricultural College by a group of students where they were subjected to torture.
Although the initiation practice has remained largely secretive, it is believed students “baptise” newcomers in the river.
However, while others managed to withstand the punishment, Noko and Mosala were not so lucky.
“The victims and the suspects left the school in the afternoon as classes end at 12 noon on Fridays,” Nkome said.
Nkome said after Mosala fell unconscious during the brutal torture some students are said to have hired a cab to rush him to hospital.
They allegedly took him to a clinic in Moshoeshoe II but it had already closed by the time they arrived there.
Nkome said the group then decided to take him to Queen ’Mamohato Hospital where he was certified dead.
He said they rushed Noko to Mabote clinic “but it was already closed so they took him to Queen ’Mamohato Hospital where he died on arrival”.
Nkome said they have been fighting the initiation practice since 2003.
“We always warn students that it is an offence to ill-treat others and those who do so will be dismissed from the school,” he said.
The college’s management yesterday pledged to ensure this was the last time that students are ill-treated during the initiation campaign.
A relative of the late Noko who spoke at the service, ’Mapaballo Matseletsele, said they had not only lost a brother but a father and a husband.
“My brother was kind, respectful and responsible,” Matseletsele said.
Noko leaves behind a wife and a one-year-old child.
Bokang’s uncle, Mosala Mosala, said he had nothing to say as he was too hurt.
The two will be buried on Saturday.