LEROTHOLI Polytechnic Rector Ntoane Lepota has urged tertiary students to desist from using violence and vandalism in expressing their grievances, saying they destroyed facilities meant to foster their educational development.
Mr Lepota made the remark in the wake of the arrest of two Lerotholi Polytechnic students for assault and vandalising property during a demonstration at the institute’s campus.
The college, which is popularly known as Fokothi, had to be closed down by the administrators after the protests went out of hand.
The students were protesting the late issuance of National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) allowances to some of the students.
According to police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, the arrested students are a 21-year-old Panel Beating and Spray-painting first-year student from Tšakholo in Mafeteng district and a 22-year-old second-year Bricklaying student from Mashai, Thaba Tseka.
Insp Mopeli said a male motorist was blocked by the protesting students in the Stadium Area of Maseru and tried to make a U-turn.
However, the motorist inadvertently hit two students who were taken to Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital after sustaining injuries.
The accident incensed the students who then ran after the car and managed to stop it near Setsoto stadium before overturning it and setting it alight.
Insp Mopeli said the students also assaulted the driver although he did not sustain serious injuries. He said more arrests were likely to be effected since the two suspects did not commit the crimes on their own.
Meanwhile, Mr Lepota told the Sunday Express that lectures were currently suspended until the NMDS allowances issue was addressed.
“We gave 941 students allowances at the beginning of July with the other batch getting it on Monday. The total number of NMDS recipients is 1370,” he said in an interview on Friday.
“We still have 1 000 outstanding students for whom we are awaiting confirmation from the NMDS. We also have 420 students who are yet to renew their contracts so we urge them to visit NMDS offices to renew and also get their allowances.”
Mr Lepota said the students who were yet to receive their allowances had influenced others to demonstrate. He said violence and vandalism were retrogressive methods to express grievances.
“The violent protests often lead to arrests and hospitalisations. It is also a waste of time because lectures are now suspended here and also at the National University of Lesotho,” he said.
“One thing we fail to understand is why the students at the different institutions always vandalise the very same property installed to improve their learning experience whenever they go on strike.
“Although our students did not break anything on Thursday inside the campus, we appeal to every tertiary student to avoid these violent protests as they often bring trouble.”