Mohalenyane Phakela | Pascalinah Kabi
POLICE Commissioner Holomo Molibeli and Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) spokesperson, Police Constable (PC) Motlatsi Mofokeng, have become sworn enemies engaged in fierce battle to oust each other from the police force.
What is not known to the public however, is that the two are close relatives and Commissioner Molibeli is the one who encouraged his nephew Mofokeng to apply to join the police force way back in 2002.
This according to PC Mofokeng’s papers filed in the High Court as part of his application challenging Commissioner Molibeli’s move to fire him from the police force.
He filed the application in response to Commissioner Molibeli’s 9 October 2020 letter asking him to “show cause” why he should not be dismissed from the police force in terms of section 31 (1) (b) of the Police Act which states that an officer who gains admission into the police service through misrepresentation, concealing information and making a false statement in reply to any question should be fired.
In his letter, Commissioner Molibeli alleged that PC Mofokeng was tried and convicted in the Butha-Buthe Magistrates’ Court for assaulting one Thabang Tsubane in 1999. That was three years before PC Mofokeng applied and got admitted into the police force.
On 21 October 2020, High Court Judge Polo Banyane granted PC Mofokeng an interim interdict barring Commissioner Molibeli from firing him until the matter is finalised.
The case is now before Justice Moroke Mokhesi who on Monday ordered Commissioner Molibeli and PC Mofokeng’s lawyers to file all necessary papers by 20 November 2020. Justice Mokhesi said he will then set a date for hearing the application three days later on 23 November.
In his court papers, PC Mofokeng denies having a criminal record. He says that if there was such a record, Commissioner Molibeli would have known about it even before he (Mofokeng) became a police officer. This- according to him- is because Commissioner Molibeli is his uncle and he is the one who persuaded him to join the police force.
“I must hasten to indicate that the first respondent (Commissioner Molibeli) and I are close relatives,” PC Mofokeng states.
“My maternal grandmother and his father are siblings. We are from the same village of Mabuthile (Butha-Buthe) and he has known me since birth.
“To my surprise and dismay, on 9 October 2020 he issued me a letter to show cause why I failed to disclose that I have a criminal record as I was convicted in 1999 before I was admitted as a police officer.
“I must indicate that if ever that was bona fide, he would have raised that point as far back as 2002 when I applied. I must indicate that in 2002 the first respondent was already a police officer. He is the one who advised and persuaded me to apply to the police force. It cannot be true that he has only now, some 18 years later, become aware of the allegations as he puts them.”
PC Mofokeng further argues that he is not the one who was convicted of assault in 1999. He alleges that the person who applied to join the force after being convicted is one Mofokeng James Mofokeng.
“I call upon this court to realise the following discrepancies in the particulars that were provided alleging the criminal record. My name is Motlatsi James Mofokeng and my mother is Mamotse Mofokeng. Her marital name is Matumo Libeo.
“However, what the application for employment form indicates is that the applicant is Mofokeng James Mofokeng and his next of kin is Makeletso Mofokeng who is supposedly my mother.”
He said he even visited Butha-Buthe Magistrates’ Court and he did not find any file containing his alleged charges and conviction.
He said it was clear that Commissioner Molibeli was determined to get rid of LEPOSA executive members and that he had made his fight with LEPOSA personal hence the “show cause” letter and the allegations against him.
“It is now in public domain that there is tension between the first respondent and LEPOSA and he is doing all he can to get rid of LEPOSA officers.
“I note that in exercising his power against LEPOSA members, the first respondent is very blinded by personal vendetta. He is adamant that he will pursue LEPOSA members against all odds,” PC Mofokeng states.
He therefore implored the court to stop his intended dismissal from the police force.
“The court shall find that the first respondent’s failure to provide applicant with the requested particulars renders his intention to invoke provisions of section 31(1)(b) (to dismiss Mofokeng) as irregular and of no force and effect in law for want of compliance with the prescripts of fair hearing.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Molibeli has admitted being related to PC Mofokeng in his answering affidavit. He however, denies inviting PC Mofokeng to apply to join the force.
He also denies allegations of habouring personal vendettas against PC Mofokeng and other LEPOSA members.
He insists that his moves to dismiss PC Mofokeng are motivated by the need to adhere to the provisions of the police act which state that ex-convicts should not be recruited into the force.
“There is nothing personal harboured by me against any member of the LMPS or of LEPOSA. As the administrator of the LMPS, I discharge my duties and responsibilities within the confines of the enabling police act and regulations.
“I am not moved by malice or ulterior motive but by the dictates and prescripts of the law. I categorically reject any suggestion and insinuation that I am targeting members of LEPOSA or members of the executive of LEPOSA,” Commissioner Molibeli states, adding that he only took action against PC Mofokeng after receiving complaints that he had failed to disclose his criminal conviction when he applied to join the force.
Commissioner Molibeli said he learnt about PC Mofokeng’s 1999 criminal record through an informant who had complained that the appointments to the force did not adhere to strict conditions barring ex-convicts from being recruited.
“This information was relayed to the LMPS administration and necessary investigation around it was carried. It was confirmed by the victim of assault and other people who have firsthand information and knew the conviction.
“Pursuant to the policy of excluding criminal convicts from gaining admission into the police service, that then necessitated the enquiry into deponent’s file and how he responded to the material and relevant question.
“When it was found that he had not truthfully answered the question that brought into sharp focus the terms of sections 10 and 31(1) of the (Police) Act. In the circumstances, I had no alternative, notwithstanding that the deponent is a close relative of mine, to remain objective and triggered the section 31(1) of the police act processes.
“I must also indicate that while I was a police officer when he was admitted into the LMPS as he indicated, I was not even aware of the deponent’s criminal convictions and sentence, nor could they have been of interest of relevance to me. This came to my knowledge for the first time in circumstances narrated above.
“My alleged persuasion to him to join the LMPS, albeit not true, could not have been an authority for him to give false answers that were subsequently directly asked him when he knew what true state of affairs was,” Commissioner Molibeli states in his court papers.