‘Marafaele Mohloboli/Tšoloane Mohlomi
THERE has been a universal outpouring of anger in the wake of the fatal shooting of National University of Lesotho (NUL) student, Kopano Makutoane, by police.
Makutoane (22) was gunned down during Thursday’s student protest at the university campus in Roma. At least seven other students were injured in the skirmishes are they are said to be recuperating at St Josephs Hospital in Roma.
From Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu down to the ordinary citizen sharing their thoughts on social media, the chorus is the same: police brutality has no place in a democracy like Lesotho and the killer cops should face the full wrath of the law.
In this article, the Sunday Express captures verbatim some of the reactions on Makutoane’s murder including those of ministers, political parties and civil society organisations:
Selibe Mochoboroane, Development Planning Minister
I was informed that students were unhappy with the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) over its decision not to give them their full allowances. I investigated and established that the NMDS had held a meeting with the various student representative councils from NUL, Limkokwing University, Botho University and Lerotholi Polytechnic and other tertiary institutions to discuss issues relating to the monthly allowances since the current academic calendar had ended prematurely.
I further learnt that there was a deadlock in negotiations and this emanated from a an old law known as the Loan Bursary Fund Act of 1978 which stipulates that students only receive allowances during the academic calendar are still attending classes on campus. This is the clause that the NMDS had resolved to enforce but this caused an uproar among the students.
I subsequently convened a meeting on Thursday morning with the NMDS in order to find a solution. Prior to that, I engaged the NUL authorities and I was told that the students had already abandoned their examinations in protest over the NMDS decision. In my meeting with the NMDS, we resolved that students should be given their allowances if such funds were still available. We went on various media platforms to communicate this message to students.
However, at about 1pm on Thursday, we received information that riots were in full swing at NUL. I don’t understand is why NUL students decided to stage the protests when their grievances had already been resolved. Despite that my well-known open door policy, they didn’t even bother to let me know about their issues.
It’s disheartening because a student lost his life and others were severely injured.
As a ministry, we are ashamed of what happened and condemn the acts of brutality. We even sent a delegation to assess the situation. We sympathise with all those affected.
Mamarame Matela, Socialist Revolutionaries leader.
June 16 is a very painful day in the history of Africa and on Thursday we lost two lives. The students were fighting for allowances they were entitled to. They were denied the allowances because Majoro wanted the money to be diverted to purchasing fertilisers so that (Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing Minister) Keketso (Sello) can buy fertilisers which they will use for their election campaign.
Ntate (Police and Public Safety Minister Lepota) Sekola why did you use live ammunition against protesting students when water cannons could have been used instead? You want to use that student’s blood for ritual purposes to enhance your elections prospects this year?
Transformation Resource Centre (TRC)
The administration should make it clear to all members of the security sector institutions that crimes against humanity will not be tolerated. Under no circumstances is torture and inhumane treatment justified in our constitutional model. Freedom from torture and inhuman treatment is an absolute fundamental human right. Torture is a crime and whoever subjects another to it should be indicted.
Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN)
LCN learnt with outmost shock of the death/s of students at the hands of police during their boycott in NUL. We condemn this barbaric act in the strongest terms. Nothing can justify taking a life. We wish the students a speedy recovery from their wounds and the psychological trauma they have been subjected to.
We are saddened by the passing on of the NUL student through police brutality. While we don’t condone vandalism, we however, categorically condemn the use of excessive force by the police against freedom of expression at NUL. The wheels of justice should turn swiftly and those responsible for the NUL student’s death should face the law.