MASERU – Management of Lerotholi Polytechnic, popularly known as Fokothi, on Tuesday this week announced the death of a prospective first year student who was admitted to commence studies at the institution in the upcoming 2022/2023 academic year.
The student’s remains were recovered where the victim died in Leribe by the district’s police on Sunday. The prospective student died far away from the school campus in Maseru as Fokothi senior students in Leribe purportedly wanted to “prepare” the newbies so that by the time they come to Fokothi in the capital, they would be “hardened enough”.
The school reported that the deceased, together with one other soon-to-be Fokothi students, were taken to a nearby river by four boys, three of whom were confirmed to be the current students. It was during this apparently gruesome ritual where the student candidate lost his life. Moreover, it was also reported that the motive behind going to the river appeared to have been to perform students’ well-known sub-cultural ritual of initiating newly admitted students.
Speaking at a media gathering to update the public on the death, the school rector, Professor Spirit Tlali, noted that this sub-culture ritual began to get out of hand in the year 2008 and nine students have died so far. In addition, Tlali further pointed out that as school management they did their utmost to eradicate this tradition but failed dismally, because students do not want to cease partaking in this heinous act.
He said all the students who were involved since the beginning of this barbaric ritual were expelled from school and also blacklisted in the school’s system and premises, in order to deny them access in case they want to return to the school. Moreover, Tlali vowed that in the upcoming academic year students will not be allowed to wear overalls and balaclavas, because he believes this attire plays a major role in influencing students to partake in these heinous acts.
Again, he also revealed that peer pressure among students has also influenced this criminality. This, he said, as he emphasised that students who decline to partake in this tradition are mocked by the perpetrators of these rituals who deride them by calling them “Lijankata.” Tlali urged students to report anyone who will be coercing or advising them to go and perform this brutal ritual.
He further indicated that during their orientation, they will provide the newly admitted students with counselling and education on how to adhere to all safety protocols during their academic journey. In addition, he said they will work hand in hand with the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) for some time in order to eradicate these sub-cultural rituals. This they will do by offering programmes similar to the ones the army is providing to uproot the mischievous behaviour of the gangs known as manomoro.
Tlali said they are peeved by these incidents because it is not the school’s culture, further appealing to Basotho to stand in solidarity with them in ensuring that these sub-culture rituals come to an end. He further told the media that they are worried because this worrying ritual might escalate into villages and wreak havoc, underlining that this is a crime not cultural in any way. He also pleaded with the parents to strongly advise and discipline their children studying at Fokothi to stop partaking in this heinous acts.
“These sub-culture rituals have soiled our reputation as a school,” Tlali said. He continued to declare that throughout the years the school’s name has been dragged through the mud because people think that they are not doing enough to do away with this ritual. Therefore, he urged all citizens to join hands with them in eradicating these gruesome acts. “We call upon everyone to assist in this matter,” he said.
Speaking at the same gathering the Lerotholi Polytechnic registrar, Maleshoane Lepota Mosakeng, revealed that some students are failing to cooperate with the school because they do not want to reveal the perpetrators of this ritual yet they know them. “They are sworn to secrecy,” she said. It is understood that these three suspected killers of the would-be Fokothi student have already handed themselves over to the police in Leribe and will appear before the magistrate court in due course.