MAFETENG – Lerotholi Polytechnic is digging in its heels after it was directed by the High Court to allow back into the campus nine students it expelled for starting a strike at the college last year. The students were suspended from the college and all its activities with effect from December 20, 2021, pending an investigation into an alleged case of misconduct.
“Should you be found not guilty of the alleged charges the institution shall not be obliged to provide you with tutoring or examinations,” rector, Professor Spirit Tlali, stated in the suspension letters. They were hauled before a disciplinary hearing in January this year and found guilty “as charged.”
On February 11, Tlali wrote to the students informing them that: “You are therefore expelled from Lerotholi Polytechnic and you are expected to vacate the LP premises with immediate effect.” He said the sentence had been handed “in cognizance of your mitigating factors.” “You have a right to appeal against the decision to the Chairperson of LP Governing Council through the office of the Rector within 14 days of receipt of this letter,” Tlali concluded.
The students appealed against expulsion from the college and the governing council hold a special meeting on April 21 to review their case. “Upon evaluation of your case, the governing council resolved that your case has to be retried. A retrial is a new trial for a case that has already been tried, as is the case in your situation,” the governing council secretary said on April 2022.
The students then filed an application in the high court asking the court to declare the decision of the governing council as null and void. In addition, they wanted to be allowed to write tests and examinations they missed during the time of their expulsion. They also wanted the retrial, which was scheduled to proceed on May 9, 2022, to be stayed and be allowed to participate in the academic activities pending finalisation of their application.
High Court Judge, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, on Monday this week granted their prayers that they be allowed to participate in the academic activities and the retrial be suspended pending finalization of the main application. But they were informed on the same day that their suspension from the school stands pending the outcome of the retrial. “You will recall that the governing council sat on the 21st April 2022 on the appeal that you had lodged to the governing body following your expulsion. A letter informing you of the council’s decision was served to you,” Tlali said on Monday.
He added: “Subsequently, the charge sheet summoning you to appear before the student disciplinary committee constituted for your retrials was also issued to you. This letter serves to inform you that your suspension from Lerotholi Polytechnic stands pending the outcome of the retrial as directed by the governing council.” Tlali told Public Eye yesterday that he was not in contempt of court and argued that the letters were written before the court order was granted. “We are going to the high court tomorrow (today) in the morning and we will make our submissions to the court,” he said. The students were striking to protest the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)’s delay in paying their allowances.