KANANELO BOLOETSE and
MASERU – The former president of the National University of Lesotho’s (NUL) Student Representative Council, Reatlehile Makateng, could face disciplinary action for allegedly threatening the efficiency and good order of the university. This is after the university’s vice chancellor, Professor Isaac Olusola Fajana, wrote to Makateng last Friday asking him to provide reasons why he should not be suspended with immediate effect pending disciplinary action.
Fajana accuses Makateng of insinuating through unfounded claims that the slain student, Kopano Makoa, allegedly spoke to him through two other female students requesting that he should seek justice on his behalf. This claim, according to Fajana, Makateng expressed on social media much to the displeasure of the Makutoane family and those affected by the tragic death. “As a result, the Makutoane family has expressed their displeasure against your conduct to an office of the university,” Fajana stated in his letter.
Makutoane was gunned down by police during the June 16 student protest against the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)’s decision to cut their monthly stipends by half. Makateng confirmed to Public Eye that he had received the show-cause letter and indicated that he had a meeting with the vice-chancellor yesterday but was reluctant to disclose the details of the meeting.
He is also accused of interfering with the university’s admissions process thereby undermining its processes and procedures. “Around the last week of June, the admissions office experienced an influx of applicants who reported that they received communication from you wherein you advised those who had not been admitted to report to the faculties they applied to because, according to you, the system in use is problematic and it omits some of the admitted applicants from the admission list.
“In addition, in a message that was circulating at your instance, you further advised those who have been admitted to contact you on your mobile number for further guidance,” Fajana wrote. This conduct, he said, constituted interference with the admissions process which “you have previously engaged in and been reprimanded for, yet you remain relentless in undermining university processes and procedures”. Earlier this year, local media claimed that a mysterious stomach disease was wreaking havoc at NUL.
The rare disease reportedly started as a stomachache and then resulted in stomach swelling with severe pain. At least three students at the institution were said to have been affected by the mysterious disease, with one of them said to have passed on. The reports caused panic at the university, prompting the ministry of health officials to run up and down seeking answers from laboratories at home and outside.
It was only a matter of time before some people on social media tried to link the alleged outbreak at NUL back to the Covid-19 vaccines. Fajana has fingered Makateng as the one who peddled reports about the mysterious disease. “Sometime in March/April, you fabricated a story that there was a pandemic where female students’ stomachs swell, with the intention to fuel public outrage against the university administration, undermine the university management and disparage the image of the university,” he said in a letter to Makateng.
‘Mamosa Moteetee, NUL spokesperson could not respond to Public Eye’s questions relating to these matter as she said she is in hospital and has only heard of the letter even though she has not seen it. She, however, believes the letter to Makateng answers all the questions that may come up from these latest developments.