The Lerotholi Polytechnic first-year student who was reported missing two weeks ago, was found dead in the Mohokare river last Thursday.
Motlatsi Matete (19) was doing Construction Management at the college and had last been seen alive on July 23, together with his classmate Tokelo Masiu (22), who was also found dead near the same river two days later.
Both learners had started classes on 14 July this year at the college, popularly known as Fokothi, and is notorious for a vicious initiation of first-year learners, which continues to claim the lives of innocent students due to its brutality.
The Maseru Urban Police Commander, Senior Superintendent Mofokeng Kolo, on Friday told the Sunday Express:
“The body was found in the Mohokare river yesterday following a search conducted by the Police Special Operating Unit and the boy’s parents.
“The reason why it took so long to recover the body was because the water was very dirty and visibility very poor.”
Senior Superintendent Kolo said Matete was found wearing a jean trouser only, while he also had minor bruises all over his body.
“Our suspicion is that he was intentionally put into the river and made to drink the dirty Mohokare River by fellow students in the school’s traditional initiation, which they claim makes them real men.
“We have heard about such cases, where first-year students are taken to that river to perform such practices under the school’s so-called tradition.
“Unfortunately, the students who are subjected to these brutal rituals never report the abuse to the police.
“The victims keep quiet about this ill-treatment because they also believe they are going to be real men after the initiation.
“They believe by being quiet about it enhances their status as real men in life.
“That, on its own, gives us problems when we are conducting our investigations after such tragedies because no one is prepared to open up and talk about the abuse.
“This looks more like a culture or belief. Even when you speak to former students of the school, they believe in this ill-treatment, and say there is nothing wrong with it.
“But this practice can only come to an end if the students can speak out about it.
“We have conducted meetings at that school to speak to the students about how wrong the initiation is but it looks like they just don’t listen as the practice continues with the arrival of new first-year students every year.”
Senior Superintendent Kolo also said what the students did not realise was that the deaths reflect badly on the school’s reputation, which could also affect them in future as graduates of an institution with such a sordid record.
“Again, when one commits a crime, they would now have a criminal record which would make it very difficult for them to get a job in and outside the country.
“What is terrible about having a criminal record is that it cannot be erased; you will have it for the rest of your life.
“Even if you have changed into a better person, that record will continue closing doors for you.”