MASERU — A colleague of Matséliso Thulo, the student who died during last week’s riots over allowances at NUL, says the deceased was not even part of the demonstrations when the police shot her.
The colleague, who lived in the same complex with Matséliso but refused to be named for fear of being targeted, said he saw the police shooting at a group of students.
He said it was around 6pm last Thursday when the fight between the students and the police, supported by NUL security guards, started.
The eyewitness said Matséliso was on “her way to her room after visiting a friend” when she was caught in the crossfire.
He said as Matséliso was passing a group of demonstrating students six police officers started shooting at the crowd.
“They fired shots to disperse the crowd,” he said.
“Immediately after the police shot at the crowd four students emerged carrying a seemingly lifeless body of Matséliso.
“They laid her next to a police van.”
In a few minutes all was quiet and the students were scared, he recalled.
“We all thought she was dead,” the eyewitness said.
“She was not moving. People were scared.
“Students who were bleeding from injuries sustained from pellet shots immediately stopped crying.
“Everybody approached Matséliso’s body to see her.
“But the police seemed not to care.
“One of them shot in the air to disperse them again.
“They took their time to take her to the hospital.”
According to the eyewitness, Matséliso was taken to St Joseph’s Hospital in a police van.
“Students were scared,” he said.
“Some were angry at the police while others were in a state of disbelief.
“Some walked to the hospital from the NUL main gate.”
At the hospital the students received the tragic news.
The eyewitness said tempers flared when the news of Matséliso’s death reached the students at the campus.
“The students were devastated,” he said.
“They started breaking windows and burning the car park tents.
“They wanted revenge.”
The student said Matséliso was a quiet and respectful young woman.
“She was such a down-to-earth person,” he said.
“She was quiet and respectful.”
He added: “There is no way she could have been part of the demonstration.
“She would not sing and shout insults in the streets like the other students.”
He said it only dawned on him that Matséliso was really dead when her parents came the following day to collect her belongings.
“It hit me then that we would no longer see her again,” he said.
“It was heartbreaking to see her parents take away everything from her room.”
He claimed that he was also hit and injured by the police during the riots.
“I was not afraid when one of the police officers attacked me,” Matséliso’s friend said.
“I was not part of the demonstration so there was nothing to be scared of.
“But when I thought about it later, and related to the fact that Matséliso was also innocent, I realised then that I could have also died.”
He said it was sad that Matséliso did not get to sit for her first semester exams which are due this month.
“She had worked hard since she arrived at school,” he said.
“She spent most of her free time in the library reading or discussing with classmates.
“She wanted so much to pass the exams.”