Call to equip police and reduce police brutality

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By Mamello Mosaefane

Torture of suspects, some tortured to death while in police custody is not only a newly occurring crime committed by men and women in blue who took an oath to serve and protect but dates further back in Lesotho.

Since the 2017 election of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, more and more such case was reported with desperate families left in fear for their lives from the law enforcement agencies that must serve them and protect.

Thabane’s detractors said the police brutality is on the rise due owing to a directive by the former Prime Minister before Parliament that seemingly promoted police brutality.

Worse off are the families located in the most remote areas of the country where such incidents are regularly reported with little progress on investigations against such crimes committed by the members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service under Commissioner Holomo Molibeli’s leadership.

But following an inquiry by a task team of Ministers led by Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao, assigned by recently appointed Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro a report calling for intelligence-driven policing to be financed in Lesotho has been released.

Announcing details of the report, Prime Minister Majoro said the report on the lack of stability in the police service has recommended ways to promote and restore peace amongst the police officers and between police and citizens.

Among others, the ministerial task team said the unprofessionalism of the police officers in investigating cases is a major cause of destroying peace between the police and the public.

According to Majoro, the police service investigation teams have become very weak and less skilled on investigating crimes.

Majoro said the task team discovered that as a result of lack of refresher courses that equip such police with proper skills they resort to torture as the sole means of extracting confessions to crimes from suspects.

“The committee has therefore revealed that as a result of lack of skills on case investigations, the police opt for torture to extract evidence from the suspects.

“The lack of refresher courses leaves the police with only an option of beating the evidence out of the suspect,” Majoro said.

The task team, Majoro said believes that capacitating police service laboratory services will help the case investigating team to do a proper job without torturing suspects.

Majoro said the laboratory is at the moment not equipped and not utilized by the police.

In a report of the Auditor General for the fiscal ended march 31 2017, on the consolidated financial statements of the government of Lesotho, the Auditor General said M3.7 million worthy DNA analysis machine was purchased for the police service’s laboratories.

“It was further noted that the machine for DNA profiling System was supplied on the 26 March 2015, but was not yet installed and not in use at the time of audit in June 2016.

“The LMPS continued to outsource the services, which were to be gained from the acquired machine, resulting in uneconomic extra cost to the government,” reads part of the report by the Auditor-General.

The Auditor General’s report further states that the contract amounting to M3, 757, 486.00 was offered for the purchase of this DNA machine, which is still not in use; Leaving the LMPS laboratory labeled “unequipped”.

Amid the already existing investment in DNA analysis machine, a functional laboratory is according to Majoro an important part of a national crime-fighting strategy which will see the reduction of instances of police brutality.

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