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Police killed NUL student

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — The student who died during last week’s strike at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) was in fact killed by the police, the Sunday Express can exclusively reveal.
Matséliso Marry Thulo, 30, a first-year student in Public Administration and Political Science, died on Thursday night during the riots over allowances that left 14 other students injured.
She was confirmed dead on arrival at St Joseph’s Hospital about a kilometre from the NUL campus.
Police had earlier postulated that Matséliso, the daughter of Lesotho Correctional Services Commissioner Mojalefa Thulo, could have been trampled in a stampede during the riots.
But a death certificate released on Wednesday shows that Matséliso 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 certificates says: “Gunshot wound with perforation of lung and heart.”
The death certificate relied on information supplied in a report of a post-mortem that was carried out on the deceased by doctors at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital on Wednesday.
A grieving Thulo said his daughter’s body had some pellet wounds.
He said the deceased’s 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 told the Sunday Express.
He said his daughter’s death had shocked the whole family.
“We were shocked when we received a message from the NUL authorities that my daughter had died in the riots,” he said.
He said his daughter was only in her first year at the university.
He however said he could not blame anyone for his daughter’s death.
“I cannot blame the death of my daughter on anyone especially now that police investigations are still going on to find out how she got hit by the bullets,” he said.
“The riots have their own complications and it is not easy to blame anyone.”
Burial is scheduled for next Saturday.
Police had earlier suggested that Matséliso could have been killed in a stampede, arguing that the pellets used to disperse the rioting students would not kill.
Research by this paper has however shown that it is quite possible for pellets to kill a human being.
It however depends on where a person has been shot.
If someone is shot in the head or on a vital organ they might die, according to the research.
The impact of pellets also depends on the range from where they are fired because pellets generally have short ranges.
Police spokesperson Pheello Mphana said he did not have a copy of the death report.
He however said a police officer had told him that it was suspected that Matséliso could have died due to pellet wounds.
Mphana said he suspected that bigger pellets could have been used.
“They normally use smaller pellets or rubber bullets,” he said.
Meanwhile, NUL authorities have said the university will be reopened tomorrow.
The university was closed down indefinitely last Friday because of the riotous demonstrations.
NUL communications officer Nthati Moorosi said students were expected to be back at school tomorrow.
Moorosi said NUL’s acting vice chancellor, Professor Molati Sebatane, will have a meeting with students to deal with their grievances.
“Students have been recalled. On Monday the vice chancellor will address the students,” Moorosi said.
She said the costs of the destruction caused by the riots were yet to be established.
Property was destroyed when the students burnt a hall at the Roma campus and shattered glass windows.
Since the strike government authorities have been battling to exonerate themselves of any blame.
The National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) told a press conference on October 23 that it was not to blame for the delays in paying out student allowances.
NMDS director Nthometseng Ntsike said she had told student representatives that the money had been sent to their bank accounts.
She however shifted the blame to some students who she said had provided NMDS with wrong bank account numbers.
Education and Training Minister ‘Mamphono Khaketla alleged in parliament last week that a “third force” was behind the strike.
“It does not require us to stretch our imagination far to conclude that there is a third force orchestrating this string of strikes,” said Khaketla in apparent reference to the wave of strikes that have happened at the country’s tertiary institutions.

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