The National University of Lesotho has “resolved to suspend lectures with immediate effect” after two days of tense student protests and class boycotts.

“The decision is taken against the escalating break down of order and tranquility on campus”, reads a statement issued by university registrar Liteboho Maqalika-Lerotholi on April 11.

Students running from police during protests at National University of Lesotho_photo by Justice Kalebe
Order broke down at Lesotho’s main university campus during student protests. Photo: Justice Kalebe

Tensions have been bubbling for many months in the landlocked southern African nation, with students angry over alleged government corruption and non-payment of allowances.

Lesotho’s student union sent a letter to the prime minister on March 30 outlining six demands, mostly focused on government’s alleged failure to cover student fees and pay allowances.

“Our Honourable Prime Minister we would like to put it on record that, last year [2016] on/or around the Month of September, we made one petition which your office did not even consider or gave any reply to,” writes union leader Thato Ponya.

“This is a prima facie evidence that your good office does not take the National University of Lesotho Student Union Seriously!”

The protests over the past two days were triggered by government inaction to act on previous demands, says Ponya.

“We won’t back off”, he adds, when asked about the student union’s future plans.

One student is in a “critical” condition in hospital “as [a] result of being shot” during today’s protest at the university campus, according to Ponya, who said he “can’t confirm whether [the bullets being used by police] were real or not”.

“Police fired [on] students and students retaliated,” he said.

student protests in lesotho_photo bu Justice Kalebe_1
Tensions are high at the National University of Lesotho during student protests. Photo: Justice Kalebe

Efforts to contact the office of Lesotho’s prime minister and the police are ongoing.

The university’s governing council will meet on April 18 to “review the situation and determine when lectures may resume”, says university registrar Maqalika-Lerotholi.

Lesotho, a constitutional monarchy of two million people, is heading to the polls on June 3 for an early election after the passing of a no confidence vote in parliament against prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Political unrest is not uncommon in Lesotho, often called the “Kingdom in the Sky”.

The country has seen several coups since gaining independence from the British in 1966.

Top photo taken by Justice Kalebe