Army still defiant over suspects request

Keiso Mohloboli

The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana, this week said he was not part of the team investigating the simultaneous bombing of two Moshoeshoe II homes and his Ha Abia residence in January this year.

Unknown assailants on January 27 attacked the Moshoeshoe II neighbouring homes of Liabiloe Ramoholi and ‘Mamoletsane Moletsane, as well as Commissioner Tšooana’s residence in Ha Abia almost 10 kilometres away, and the LMPS has since launched an investigation into the bombings with the assistance of South African security experts.

Addressing a media briefing at Police Headquarters on Tuesday, Commissioner Tšooana, who was in the company of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Masupha Masupha said he wanted to set the record straight that he was not personally involved in the probe.
“Whenever there is a crime, investigators thoroughly probe the alleged crime by following set procedures under the supervision of the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police.
“Basotho should be clear that I am not, in any way, investigating the case; I am not part of the team of investigators and my office is not instituting investigations regarding the bombings,” Commissioner Tšooana said.

The Commissioner also explained why he wrote to the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, last month, requesting the release of eight soldiers to the police to help in the investigations.
The letter, dated April 14, 2014, had state the dates and times on which the soldiers were supposed to be at Police Headquarters from April15-22. In the letter, Commissioner Tšooana informed Commander Kamoli: “The Office of the Commissioner of Police is investigating crimes of bombings that occurred around the 27th January 2014 on three families viz Ha-Abia, and Moshoeshoe II.

“Your office is therefore requested to provide the office of the Police Commissioner with the following information to facilitate the administration of justice:
1. Record of purchase/acquisition of your RD 40mm HE M848. This should include the date of acquisition, place and name of company and quantity supplied and received by your office.
2. Record of dispatch of your RD 40mm HE M848 from your armoury. This should include dates of dispatch, details of issuer and receiver and the purpose of such dispatch.
3. Your report which entails invoices from the supplier and copies of dispatch from armoury should cover the periods from 1993 to date.

In addition to the records above, you are required to release and direct the following eight officers (names withheld) under your command to report before the office of the Commissioner of Police on the dates opposite their names.
Your cooperation will be highly appreciated and your response in regard to the acquisition of the RD 40mm HE M848 (grenades made in South Africa) is expected before Friday 18/04/14.”

However, the LDF has not complied with the request — a development confirmed by Commissioner Tšooana at Tuesday media briefing.
“Section 343 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act empowers the police to interrogate anyone as part of investigations, before submitting the docket to a court of law for prosecution.
“Writing the letter to LDF Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, was one of the procedures to be followed for the release of individuals who happen to be employees of the LDF, to the police for interrogation,” he said.
Commissioner Tšooana further said the LMPS was not in conflict with the army regarding the issue as widely alleged by the public.

He, however, said the Office of the Deputy Commissioner was concerned at the time which has passed since the letter requesting the release of the soldiers was issued, with no response coming from the LDF.
Commissioner Tšooana also related an incident in which some LDF members allegedly killed a man in Mafeteng last year and refused to report to the police to facilitate investigations into the incident.
“Investigations into such cases are set back due to the negative response of the LDF,” Commissioner Tšooana said.

DCP Masupha, on his part, said the police had learnt of “a specific cluster” within the LDF, which has been implicated in several crimes such as murder but never reports to the police for investigations as required by the law.
“The police and army are supposed to work hand-in-hand to eliminate crime and this was not the first time that we were writing to the LDF commander for the release of his officers. It therefore, comes as surprise that in some cases, the officers are released and in others, they are not,” he said.

DCP Masupha emphasised that anyone alleged to have committed crime in Lesotho is bound by law, to report to the police as part of investigations.

“However, it seems to be an endemic culture for that cluster of army officers to decline to follow these regulations and report themselves to the police, whenever they are required to do so”.
DCP Masupha said police investigations and attempts to capture army officers to the police to help in investigations won’t stop.
“We are not in a state to disclose the steps to follow if the army officers persist not to report to the police but Basotho should rest assured and know that there are lawful procedures that the police will follow to complete investigations regarding the issue,” he said.

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