MASERU – Five National University of Lesotho third year students detained during a violent protest this week appeared in the Maseru Magistrate Court yesterday and were granted free bail.
A total of 10 people were arrested.
The Social Sciences learners appeared before court to answer four charges following their arrest on October 26 during unrest at the school.
The protest got out of control and the students embarked on a looting spree of businesses in the precincts of the university, with shops plundered, and private property including cars was damaged. Several people were injured.
Rethabile Tšeuli (20), Boitumelo Letele (21), Mokoma Mokoma (21), Khotso Nyopane (21) and Tlotliso Ramosoeu (20) have been charged with four counts of vandalism and racketeering by the magistrate court.
The five were charged with stealing 85 boxes of Frimax zimbas that cost M21 250, four cases of Twizza soft drink, a box of matches, a can of Red Bull energy drink, a box of raisers, and a box of hot Chilli Nandos sauce that cost M6 800.
Representing the accused, Advocate Tumelo Qophe pleaded that bail be granted and the court be lenient in its judgment as the defendants are students and pose no threat, with the academic year in progress online though the university is declared closed.
Magistrate ’Makananelo Letsike granted the five students free bail with strong orders for them not to interfere with police investigations and state witness.
She further ordered that when issued with summons they should act accordingly, indicating that her leniency was because they are students and they need to continue with their studies.
The five were not remanded in custody and they will be called by summons when police investigations have been completed.
Roma Valley came to a standstill as the NUL students burned tyres across the road blocking traffic. Students protested the delays finalising their registration with the school as well as in the payment of their allowances by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
They were chanting in the streets blocking the road between the university main gate and Ha Scout, throwing stones at vehicles some of which were damaged. The students marched to the Ha Scout shopping complex about 100 metres from the main gate to the complex houses and some retail shops and this is where they were seen looting.
Heavily armed Roma police officers, together with a Flight One contingent, were deployed at the scene with water cannons – with assistance from the police Special Operations Unit.