Roma community weighs in on student death



MASERU – The Roma community, where the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is located, has urged the government to take legal action against police officers that shot and killed a student during the last week’s strike. In a statement the community also noted that while they strongly disagree with the behaviour shown by the students during the strike, and urge them to learn to table their grievances with the relevant bodies and pursue non-violent means to resolve disputes, they also condemn the use of deadly force upon students by police offers.

The statement said protecting all lives should have been the police’s first priority, further noting that the officers could, instead have used non-lethal riot control equipment such as water cannons and tear gas, among other options. The community says what makes the situation even more tragic is that this is the third or fourth time that a NUL student has died at the hands of the police.

“We hope the individual(s) who discharged live ammunition at students will be dealt with by the rightful authorities,” they noted. They also urge the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) to take the students’ body seriously as an equal in the contractual agreements they make, and ensure that all to abide by signed agreements at all times.

The community further blames the whole saga on the NUL management stating that if it was not because of its corrupt ways and their mismanagement of the school, learning time would have not been wasted and students would have attended classes and written examinations on time and would have gone home and not fight over allowances.

“Due to the corruption and mismanagement by the current university management, a lot of teaching time went to waste, that is, two months at the beginning of the first semester teaching, two weeks at the beginning of the second semester teaching. “This drastically reduced the time for teaching and learning putting extreme pressure upon the students in the current academic year. “NUL students have been treated outright inhumanely, equal or worse than machines or robots. However, since they are human, this rendered them easily irritable,” the community said.

The community noted that they are also very disappointed at the NUL management for letting the situation get out of hand, saying there was still enough time to put the situation under control but the school management turned a blind eye to the impending disruptions and protests. They call for independent urgent investigations to expose and root out the factors, circumstances and events contributing to the students’ strike, along with the killing of the student and injuries to others during the protests.

In the statement the community said they have conducted their own research and found out that among the causes of the strike includes the wasted learning time which resulted in students and lecturers being under pressure, and the use of a newly acquired IT system called FEDENA, which has caused prolonged registration problems at the beginning of the academic year, as well as corruption within the university and its mismanagement.

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