â€¦as strike over unpaid allowances erupts into violence and vandalism
Pandemonium has erupted at the countryâ€™s prime tertiary education institution the National University of Lesotho (NUL) over non-payment of student allowances by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) as it is yet to receive lists of registered students from the university.
Information reaching this publication is that NMDS is in no position to process any allowances to students since they are only in the midst of the signing contracts with them while information from NUL proving the studentsâ€™ bona fides is yet to be duly dispatched to NMDS.
It is for this reason that students resorted to industrial action against the institution as they decry its failure to cooperate with them and prioritise their needs. This afternoon there were reports of violence which had allegedly escalated to looting of nearby private entities including businesses. This was received by police who have, in an attempt to control rioting have used some degree of force inclusive of firing crowd-dispersing rubber bullets and teargas as well as using hand canes to scatter the students some of whom have sustained injuries.
There have also been reports of the acts of violence meted against other students by their fellow students accusing them of failing to support their cause by not participating in the strike.
President of the NUL Studentsâ€™ Representative Council (SRC) Tumo Tsanyane stated that more students have been arriving at the St. Josephâ€™s Hospitalâ€™s casualty ward to be treated for injuries sustained in the acts of violence. He said there is a student who is in critical condition after being assaulted by other students saying she did not participate in the on-going strike.
â€œThe Student is in critical situation of health as we speak and the nurses indicate that if the Student is not rushed to TÅ¡epong Hospital (the national referral hospital Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital) for quick surgery her life could be in real danger,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, newly-installed NUL Vice-Chancellor, Professor Isaac Olusola Fajana has given all students their matching orders.
In a brief memo released earlier today, Fajana ordered all students in the campus to vacate the premises immediately as a means to prevent more vandalising of university property.
The development was confirmed by NUL Communications and Marketing Director â€˜Mamosa Moteetee who also added that management had no idea what the studentsâ€™ grievances were hence the Vice-Chancellorâ€™s move.
â€œThis morning, NUL students went on rampage and started destroying the University and public property without informing the SRC or Management about their grievances. Director Safety and Security and his team are trying to put the situation under control.
â€œNUL Community is informed that the Vice-Chancellor has instructed students to vacate the University premises by 3:15pm this afternoon, till further notice. Staff Members are advised to exercise caution and note that they are expected to continue with their normal University activities including online teaching,â€ Moteetee said in a statement.
The police Public Relations Office has not been available for a comment on the allegations of the use of force as well as vandalism to school and adjacent private property.
(the story is developing, more to followâ€¦)