Fokothi initiation students suspended
SIX Lerotholi Polytechnic students who were saved on Friday last week by police from torture during an initiation ritual have been suspended by the college’s management pending a disciplinary hearing.
The students alleged they were shoved into a four-plus-one taxi by armed senior colleagues at the entrance of the college, popularly known as Fokothi. They were taken to Mohokare River in Khubetsoana, at a place called Lifariking, which has become the site of many infamous induction rituals that have claimed the lives of a number of Fokothi students over the years.
Five of the students, aged between 18 and 22 years, were first-year students, while the sixth one was is in his second year.
In addition to the six, a number of students had willingly come to be initiated to avoid being bullied by their seniors since it was regarded as a rite of passage.
One of the six students, and some residents of the surrounding villages alerted the police of the initiation ritual with the latter promptly descending on the area. The police fired warning shots, and most of the students fled in various directions except for the six who were later taken to their homes by the police.
However, Fokothi’s Acting Deputy Rector of Academic Affairs and Research, Thabo Fonya, told the Sunday Express the six were suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.
According to the school’s rules and regulations, anyone involved in an initiation ritual, be it as a victim or perpetrator, was liable to expulsion to deter would-be initiates from voluntarily participating in the induction.
“We have suspended all six students and are working hand in hand with the police to hold an identification parade where the inductors will be identified,” Mr Fonya said on Friday.
This was after the college’s management decided against holding an identity parade last Monday to prevent the victimization of the students by their senior colleagues.
Addressing hundreds of Fokothi male students last Monday, Maseru Urban District Commissioner, Senior Superintendent Motlatsi Mapola, said the police and the college’s management decided to use a “safe” way of identifying the aggressors without putting their victims at risk.
“We are still looking at ways to go about it with the school management, but be rest assured investigations are ongoing,” he said.
An irate Sen Sup Mapola said they would no longer tolerate any unruly behavior by the Fokothi students.
“These initiation rituals are satanic and we are going to exorcise the demons in some of you. We will lash you left, right and centre until the demons are driven out of you for good,” he said.
“We will not allow you to loiter at the college entrance like you normally do, or dance and make noise. That has come to an end. You are here to learn and not to distract others.”
Sen Sup Mapola said the students would only be allowed to dance and sing after getting a permit like everyone else who intends to hold a procession or public meeting.
“You must obtain a permit from the police. We will not allow you to dance and sing without authorisation,” he said.
Sen Sup Mapola also appealed to students who were being coerced by their lecturers to participate in the initiation ritual to report to the police.
“Our investigations have revealed that some lecturers are involved in this ill-treatment of students by denying assistance to learners who would have refused to participate in the initiation,” he said.
“If any lecturer denies you assistance or doesn’t mark your assignment because you were not initiated, come straight to the police and report them.”
The same, Sen Sup Mapola said, applied to company officials who deliberately failed interns because they did not undergo the induction ritual.
“We have learnt from some interns at various companies that if they admit to not having undergone the initiation ritual, they risked failing their internship. This is unacceptable and illegal, and we are going to carry out more investigations on this matter,” he said.
“If any manager asks you if you have been to the initiation, just come and report them to us.”