Police association demands independent commission of inquiry
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Billy Ntaote and Mamello Mosaefane
The Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) executive committee has called for Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to institute a public commission of inquiry led by an independent jurist to quell the unrest docking the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
The staff association secretary-general Moraleli Motloli said a recently released executive summary of the findings of a Ministerial Task team led by Professor Nqosa Mahao failed to address LEPOSA’s grievances it was instituted to address but only dealt with symptoms while the problem in the police service has been left untouched.
Prime Minister Majoro had appointed Mahao as the Minister of Law and constitutional affairs, human rights and correctional services Professor Mahao to lead ministerial task team made of Police Minister Senauoane, Defence and national security minister Prince Maliehe and minister in the prime minister’s office Kemiso Mosenene in the ministerial task team tasked to find a lasting solution to instability within the Police Service.
However, after Prime Minister Majoro release of findings of the task team at a press briefing, the officers’ staff association has come out with guns blazing decrying the manner in which the task team conducted itself and dismissing the findings of the ministers.
Motloli said Leposa demands a public commission of inquiry in order to arrest a further deteriorating security crisis facing the police service.
He said the release of the “half-baked and fallacious” report penned by Mahao his colleagues misdirected the Prime Minister.
“First of all, we want a public inquiry, but we were given a secret inquiry by ministers who were biased and lacked the ability to deal decisively with the problem in the LMPS.
“Professor Mahao, leading the task team is a conflicted party in the affairs of the police service and must not be leading the task team as he has close relations with the Commissioner of Police as the Deputy Leader of the All Basotho Convention.
“Mahao while fighting to secure his position in the ABC national executive committee while his election was being contested and refused by the party leader, former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was assigned police officers who acted as his bodyguards by Commissioner Molibeli.
“As though it was not enough, the Commissioner specifically assigned officers to guard Mahao who were from the Leribe district while he could have just assigned officers from Maseru. But he went above and beyond to select specific persons to guard him and ensure his safety,” said Motloli.
Motloli also noted that Mahao, “owing favors to the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli” remains a conflicted party that was wrongly appointed to head the task team of Ministers hence his reluctance to decisively deal with the evidence presented against his confidante.
Attempts to get a comment from Mahao were fruitless at the time of publishing.
Motloli argued that Mahao’s task team and report undermined the task he was given by Prime Minister Majoro.
“We thought just like he tirelessly demanded justice for his brother following his killing and also demanded an unabridged report of the Justice Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry he would also afford us the same and release a full report which would publicize all issues presented to the ministerial task team but shockingly we learned that we are only being given a summary as the full report has names of persons that cannot be disclosed to the public.
“We demand a full report be released and a proper commission of inquiry be held under the leadership of an independent jurist,” said Motloli.
’Mathebe Motseki, Leposa executive committee member corroborated Motloli’s sentiments arguing not only was the conducted of professor Mahao during their appearances before the task team demeaning of Leposa and their grievances leveled against the Police Commissioner and his deputies but Mahao also threatened to overturn a court decision which he declared irregular.
Motseki said the minister accused Leposa of seemingly being determined to usurp the powers to appoint a Commissioner of Police by demanding that the Police Authority suspend Molibeli.
She said Mahao also chastised Leposa for acting in an unbecoming manner for an association.
“He said we act as though we are a Union and we are just an association. He further said our demands for the Police Commissioner to be held liable for the extrajudicial killings of suspects in police custody and torture of suspects by police officers just like Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli is detained for actions of soldiers during his command are misplaced as Molibeli did not kill anyone,” said Motseki.
Motloli added not only was the ministerial task team led by a conflicted Mahao but he alleged Minister of Defence and National Security Prince Maliehe is also a conflicted party in that he is a family friend to Commissioner Molibeli.
He further said they could not have expected the task team to have made anything different from the sham of findings that failed to deal with the problems but came up with findings of the imagination of its authors.
Motloli argued Molibeli should have long been suspended from the helm of the police service together with his deputy Paseka Mokete whom he alleged are both facing various charges and have allegedly benefited from the killing of Lipolelo Thabane, the slain wife of former Prime Minister Thabane.
“As we speak, we know suspects or possible witnesses in the killing of former Prime Minister Thabane’s late wife Lipolelo Thabane are being killed in order to conceal what really happened.
“We are now just left with two witnesses Thato Sibolla who was with the assassinated Lipolelo and Mojakhomo who used to act as a mule for cash to pay the hit-man that were allegedly hired on the instruction of Liabiloe Ramoholi come Maesiah Thabane.
“We need to understand that the commissioner of police also benefited from the killing of Lipolelo and his colleagues in the administration of the police service and they must be held accountable for that,” said Motloli.
Motloli said Leposa is shocked that instead of dealing with the commissioner of police whom they alleged is facing numerous charges in various cases, the ministers decided to make a finding that Leposa is too powerful and acts like a union when in fact it’s just an association.
This has therefore let to the ministers’ task team recommending that Leposa needs immediate systems and structure restructuring.
Leposa has however shown its disappointment at its press conference, saying that the executive report has deliberately omitted its concerns tabled before the minister of law, Nqosa Mahao as the chair of the task team.
Having been one of Leposa’s representative in the committee, Motseki said there is stability in LMPS, the problem is the authority and its management.
She however mentioned that the association was in shock when Mahao named people he wanted to represent Leposa, though he later accepted Leposa’s decision in sending their own desired representatives.
Regardless of the documents that Leposa presented before the committee as evidence of the unfair dismissals and treatments of LMPS members, Motseki said all those are excluded in the report.
Mahao, Motseki said told them during proceedings of inquiry that Molibeli cannot be held responsible for police brutality and killings of people as he is not the one killing people.
Motseki further added that Molibeli’s criminal allegations are similar to those of Tlali Kamoli who is in jail for killings that happened under his command, without him killing anyone; hence should be treated the same.
According to Leposa, a number of their national executive committee (NEC) members have been wrongfully suspended under the leadership of Molibeli in stark actions set out to weaken Leposa.
Furthermore, Leposa pointed out that it has been evident that the police commissioner himself sent people to torture Thesele Matela without any case against him.
Thesele Matela is a man who was under the instruction of Molibeli taken to statehouse to be whipped by former first lady Maesiah Thabane for mistakenly calling the mobile phone of former Prime Minister Thabane.
Motloli said there is a pending case against Molibeli on this matter.
Tabled before Mahao, Motloli said was also an issue of promotions that do not follow procedure.
Motloli mentioned among others the promotion of a 40-year old fingerprint technologist into being the police doctor after she has academically improved herself.
“This was wrong, as the entrance into LMPS is 18-31 years.
Motloli said Leposa’s fight against wrongful promotions makes it look like it is targeting people because it involves financial development.
Leposa, therefore, denied that it is fighting for promotions, but rather said it is fighting for promotions to follow procedure as Molibeli used to do while he served as the President of Leposa.
Adding to Leposa’s reasons why Molibeli should be suspended is deputy commissioner of police Tumelo Moseme’s case cancellation at the high court.
Moseme has since been suspended in 2010 and has not been reinstated to work amid a court decision for his reinterment.
While the task team report touched on attending to police brutality issues, Leposa said it is not an easy thing to fix if members of LMPS are unfairly treated by the management.
Motloli emphasized that “charity begins at home”, hence the police brutalize people due to the ill-treatment received from the authority.
“A case was opened against the police commissioner concerning the torture of some LMPS members at Police Training Centre, with their cell phones being taken from them and not contactable at that time,” said Motloli.
He said Leposa also showed its surprise in the way interdictions are selective and discriminatory but nothing reflects in the findings released in the investigation of crimes committed by police officers.
“If the authority has been eying on you, then interdiction awaits you, while others never go through it despite their actions,” said Motloli.
Adding to Leposa’s concerns is the disappearance of Makarabo Mamojakhomo from police custody at a high-security facility like the police headquarters.
“In principle, the police have trafficked ‘Mamojakhomo, and violated the territorial integrity of South Africa by smuggling a person into it illegally.” Said Motloli.
He further added that Lesotho has always made it easy for anyone to get travel documents to travel to other countries from as far back as 2010 when South Africa hosted a world cup.
Dealing with human trafficking, Motloli said will therefore be difficult because Lesotho is a syndicate of such a crime.
Leposa, Motloli said is also not satisfied that the deputy commissioner Mokete remained in office after being remanded and appeared before court for sexually assaulting a policewoman at parliament.