In one of the latest exploits of police-on-public brutality, a National University of Lesotho is said to have died, another in critical conditions in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with scores others also fighting for their lives in hospital.
This was confirmed by NUL President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) Reatlehile Makateng, who also confirmed that members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) were heavily armed with live ammunition.
The police had had to intervene in a disruptive strike launched by the students on account of their allowances cut unilaterally and in disregard of contractual obligations by the government through the Ministry of Development Planningâ€™s National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
â€œThis comes after the Ministry through NMDS made an arbitrary decision to cut studentsâ€™ allowances for this month from M1,100 to M450,â€ he said.
Makateng indicated that, this is the first time students allowances are cut because they will be closing schools before their month end according to their calendar.
â€œNMDS cut the allowances because they claim schools will be closed before the 15th which is supposed to be our month end. But the argument is that, we have signed for M1,100 for 10 moths not less than that,â€ he said.
In expressing their anger at the developments, the students strode into a strike which disrupted normal operations at the institution including writing of exams.
Approached for a comment Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the LMPS Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said he has no details about the strike or what happened therefore he cannot comment.
For her part, NUL Director of Marketing and Communications, â€˜Mamosa Moteetee confirmed that students went on strike, disrupted on going examinations, destroyed school property and vandalized street vendorsâ€™ property following the decision by NMDS not to give them full amount of money this month reason being they will not be at school the whole month.
â€œDestroying property is a criminal act that is why the police had to be engaged. The management of the university has learned that some of the students were injured and were taken to hospital with the school ambulance but we are in no position to confirm about deaths. We will only confirm after receiving report from our security office,â€ she said.
Moteetee said after the school found out the reason behind the strike, it had talks with the NMDS the result of which was a decision to reverse the Secretariatâ€™s decision.
On the other hand, NMDS issued a statement indicating that, the ministry has reached to a decision to give full allowances to students without considering the contracts they signed which indicate that they will only get money when they are in school.
â€œThe Nation as well as students should be aware that, what is correct according to the contracts is that the students are supposed to get money only when they are still at school, not when they are done with their examinations.â€