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Cop charged for NUL student’s murder

Nat Molomo

MASERU — A policeman is being charged for the murder of a National University of Lesotho (NUL) student who was fatally shot during the violent riots at the institution in 2009.
The state alleges that Jabavu Paamo shot and killed Matšeliso Thulo on October 22 during violent clashes between the police and the students.
Matšeliso was 30.
NUL students had gone on strike after the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS delayed their food allowances.
Paamo is also facing three counts of attempted murder as a result of the shots he allegedly fired on that fateful day.
The state alleges that he shot and injured Papali Chabana, Rets’elisitsoe Hoala and Refuoe Mohono with intention to kill them.
Paamo however pleaded not guilty to all charges when he appeared before High Court’s Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane on Friday.
Matšeliso, a first-year student in Public Administration and Political Science, was pronounced dead at St Joseph’s Hospital moments after she was shot by the police during the riot that left 14 other students injured.
Days after the tragedy the police postulated that Matšeliso, daughter of the Lesotho Correctional Services Commissioner Mojalefa Thulo, could have been trampled in a stampede during the riots.
But a death certificate that her family showed to this paper revealed that Matséliso had died from wounds caused by pellets, the ammunition that police used to disperse the students during the three-day riots.
The cause of death section of the certificate says: “Gunshot wound with perforation of lung and heart.”
The death certificate relied on information in a report of a post-mortem carried out by doctors at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
A grieving Thulo also told this paper that his daughter’s body had some pellet wounds.
He said the body did not have bruises to show that she was crushed in the stampede as had been earlier suspected.
“The death report has confirmed that the cause of death is a gunshot wound with perforation of lung and heart,” Thulo said.
On Friday the court heard how four students brought Matséliso to Paamo and said “finish her up because you have shot her”.
Lipuo Ramarothole, who left the university in 2010, told the court that she witnessed the clash between the students and the police from a taxi.
Ramarothole said the chaos started when students clashed with security guards at the campus gate.
She said angry students started pelting the guardroom with stones after security guards whipped them.
“Most of the students ran outside the campus, regrouped and returned to the gate singing and burning tyres,” Ramarothole said. “While the students were at the gate singing a police vehicle arrived with police holding big guns and alighted”.
She said as the students advanced towards the police vehicle, the police started shooting at them.
“This time it was all chaos with students pelting police with stones,” Ramarothole said. Ramarothole explained that after a few hours she saw another group of students approaching the police.
“As they (students) were approaching the police they raised their hands as if they were surrendering,” Ramarothole said.
“At that time police stood in the middle of the road. I saw four policemen standing in a straight line.”
The police then corked their guns and started shooting at the students, she said.
Ramarothole explained that after a few moments she saw “some students coming from behind Kay Cees and Roberto carrying another student”.
Under cross-examination from Paamo’s lawyer Advocate Khotso Nthontho, Ramarothole admitted that she had not managed to identify the police officers who had fired at the students because they “were all in police uniform”.
She however said he noticed that one of the police officers “pointed a gun at the students while others pointed their guns upwards”.
She admitted she could not identify Paamo as the policeman who had shot the students.
The trial continues.

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