Students run amok in Quthing

Students run amok in Quthing

QUTHING – ABOUT 20 students, suspected to have been high on marijuana, burnt down offices and broke classroom windows during a riot at Mphaki High School last Thursday.
The financial loss is estimated to be over half a million maloti.
The principal, Mussaz Baker, told thepost that teachers and students ran helter-skelter in fear for their lives as the unruly mob threw stones.
The staffroom, the principal’s office and several classrooms were destroyed during the fracas.

As some students and teachers fled from their attackers, they found themselves trapped in the school yard because the gates were closed.
“Unfortunately, the big gate was closed but we managed to use a small one and some jumped off the fence,” Baker said.
“Luckily, I found one of the teachers’ cars parked outside the school yard and speeded to the police station to report.”
“When I arrived at the station, I started receiving calls that there was smoke at the school.”

He said the fire spread quickly because of the school’s hand sanitisers which were stored in the rooms.
He said he returned back to the school accompanied by the police but the attackers, who call themselves Marabele (a Sesotho word derived from the English term for rebels) threw stones at the officers.
The boys ran then fled into the mountain.
The principal said the villagers helped save children staying at teachers’ houses who had nowhere to run to because they are living in the school yard.

“Luckily, there were no injuries,” he said.
He said this occurred after a 20-minute break when some students returned to classes.
“We really don’t know the reasons (why they were violent),” he said.
The school has now been closed until further notice.
Yesterday, the school authorities held a meeting with the parents to discuss the way forward.

Baker said most of the perpetrators were under the age of 20 and were in grades 10 and 11.
“They have since run away,” he said.
Baker said they have opened a case of malicious damage to property with the police.
“They are criminals and soon they will be arrested. Some of them are young but the school doesn’t need them anymore. We have 350 students and we can’t close for long because of criminals.”
He described those students as “stubborn”.

“They always “forgot” their masks at home but we didn’t know that there was more to their behaviour.”
He said the students were among those who were under-performing in their school work and some were forced to attend school by their parents.
He said something “big” was going on in local schools citing similar protests by students at Mopeli Primary School, some 10 km away.
Primary school pupils burnt tables and insulted teachers.

Basic Education Principal Secretary, Dr Lira Khama, said they went to the school on Monday following a report that students were on strike and had burnt classrooms.
“We wanted to find the cause of the problem and it was a concern as there were damages,” Dr Khama said.
He said there was no clear explanation for the students’ behaviour but they were informed that they used a paraffin heater to torch the buildings.

“It is still very unclear what caused the uproar and the school was closed for further investigations,” he said.
Dr Khama said they urged the school authorities to quickly re-open so that students are not disadvantaged.
“Culprits are another group and Grade 12 students have to proceed with classes as their examinations are around the corner,” he said.
He added that “the law has to take its course on the perpetrators as there is damage of property”.

Mapule Motsopa

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