Prospective Fokothi student killers in court

 LEMOHANG TŠEHLA

MASERU – Three Lerotholi Polytechnic students have appeared before the Leribe Magistrate Court to answer a charge of the murder of 17-year-old Bafokeng Manyase who had been admitted to commence his studies at the same school in the 2022/2023 academic year. Manyase died at Ha Molibeli, in Leribe, on August 7 and his remains were recovered near the Mohokare River by the district’s police. The accused students are Patlo Phamotse, 20, Tšepo Molapo, 23, and 21-year-old Refiloe Richards of Tšifa-li-mali and Mankoaneng, respectively.

The suspected killers reportedly handed themselves over to the police in Leribe. Only last week, the school, popularly known as Fokothi, reported during a press briefing that the deceased, together with other prospective students, was taken to a nearby river by four boys, three of whom were confirmed to be current students. The accused students’ charge sheet reads that the trio, unlawfully and with intent to kill, assaulted Manyase with blunt objects and coerced him to drink excessively dirty water from the Mohokare River, from which he died on the scene.

The accused were read and explained the charge against them. They were then remanded in custody awaiting their trial which will resume in the High Court of Lesotho on August 24. Investigations into the murder continue. Speaking at a media gathering to update the public on the death, the school rector, Professor Spirit Tlali, said the notorious sub-culture ritual began to get out of hand in 2008 and nine students have died so far as a result.

Tlali further noted that as the school’s management they did their utmost to eradicate this tradition but failed dismally because students do not want to stop partaking in this heinous tradition. 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 from the premises, in order to deny them access in case they want to return to their school.

He 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.

Tlali also 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.

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