INITIATION schools’ operators around the country have been asked to clean up their act in order to restore the institutions’ good image.
Operators of initiation schools from Maseru and Thaba-Tseka met with senior officers at the Police Training College on Tuesday during community policing for initiation schools (COPIS) meeting. The police urged the operators to work hard to prevent crimes that have dogged the institutions lately.
Speaking at the meeting, Assistant Commissioner (ACP) Beleme Lebajoa said COPIS was meant to collaborate with initiation schools’ operators to prevent crime. He said COPIS would also look into the procedures to be followed once a crime has been committed.
“During admission and graduation ceremonies of the initiation schools the police are always called to patrol the areas hosting the ceremonies to prevent crimes that may be committed,” ACP Lebajoa said.
“We realised that we have not been addressing the real challenge even when we have always been on guard. We must now identify and deal with the causes of the crimes and collaborate with the initiation schools’ operators.”
For his part Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Keketso Monaheng said the police and the initiation schools have to work together since they are both men of the law.
“Both police officers and initiates when things are normal and done right they must work together because they are both men of law,” DCP Monaheng said.
To the initiation schools’ operators DCP Monaheng said: “You are only trusted to mold them into becoming responsible men”.
“They belong to the community. This responsibility is only awarded to you by the public because they trust you.”
DCP Monaheng said there was no need for heavy police presence at the initiation schools with intimidating riffles when instead the initiated young men should be entrusted to protect the community.
He said the numbers of men from initiation schools that are arrested were worrisome and there was an urgent need to put an end to the “fights and killings”.
In response, the initiation schools’ operators acknowledged some of the faults of their institutions and also committed to bringing back the dignity and pride.
They said they would now work to ensure that crimes are prevented and also come up with a clear criterion of admission together with the communities.
The operators pledged to collaborate with the guardians to ensure that only men who are above 18 years are admitted at the schools. Among some of the pledges are to ensure that they only enroll individuals with clean criminal records, those who are healthy and also that weapons, especially firearms are banned from the schools.
Initiation schools around the country have been tainted by the gruesome murders that have been attributed to some of the graduates while operators have been accused of sponsoring the violence. The graduates have also been linked to some violent famo music factions and have also been accused of sexual violence against women and girls.