Dear Ntate Molibeli
I greet you in the name of love, peace and harmony. I also hope I find you well and in good shape. As the head of an institution that is supposed to protect us, you surely must always keep fit. So I hope you do jog every morning and lift a few bricks to tone your generally impressive biceps.
I have been away for a few weeks after I decided to take a rest and observe the political and economic vicissitudes in His Majesty’s Majestic Kingdom from a bit of distance. I am back and I thought it apt to relaunch myself by penning this open letter to you.
Ntate Molibeli, I am honestly disappointed by you and your leadership of the so called Lesotho Mounted Police Service aka LMPS.
When you took over the top job after the second return of Ntate Motsoahe, I was originally impressed. You exemplified steely determination to rid Lesotho of all the lawlessness that had taken grip during the previous Pink Pakalitha Panther era. I then believed in your commissionership.
Within no time, Babli Mansa; the Father of All Twins; Owner of the Universe and Planet Mars in Particular and Commander of all the creatures of the earth and fishes of the sea (Tlali Kamoli) was nabbed. From his lofty perch, he was confined to a 2 x 2 space at Maseru Maximum where he remains ensconced. No other commander has ever fallen from grace so spectacularly in all recorded history. His ever loyal partners in high crime were also caged; Again thanks to you Ntate Molibeli. We at the Lesotho Times, who had nearly lost our editor Ntate Lodza, were particularly elated. No one who had experienced Kamoli during his heights would have ever imagined that this would happen to him. The man loved himself. Even rats and mice were scared of him. They fled into the deepest of holes whenever he entered the barracks. At the height of his power, thinking that he could ever get arrested, was tantamount to predicting the triple collision of earth, Jupiter and the moon. But again thanks to your steely determination to do what is right, Kamoli was humbled alongside many of his co-conspirators.
So what has now happened to the Molibeli who started with so much promise. How is it that the LMPS, which you appeared to be on course to transforming into a professional force to protect Basotho against the scourge of crime, is now akin to Boqo Haram. How is it that despite all the outcry against the brutality of the men under your command, they still continue on their wayward and rogue path.
Ntate Molibeli, whenever you see Scrutator agreeing with Bokang Ramatsella, then you must know things are really bad. Ramatsella has written to the International Criminal Court in the Hague complaining about how the LMPS has become akin to a terrorist organization. While his letter might have been misdirected, his sentiments are right. Things are really bad Ntate Molibeli.
Of the many atrocities that your police force is committing against Basotho, one incident clearly stands out. In recent reports of police brutality, some of your rogue officers tortured 49 year-old Nqosa Mahao of Ha Mabote. This surely cannot be the Nqosa Mahao who sooner or later will become Premier. I can only wish he was so that when he indeed becomes premier, he will be seething with revenge at you and your men. But the case that stands out is of 31 year-old Kabelo Ratia of Nazareth, Maseru. It is the torture of Ntate Ratia which grabbed headlines and exposed the sadism and the ugly face of the men under your command.
Ntate Ratia was so badly tortured that he passed out and emptied his bladder and bowels. When he recovered from the torture, he was then forced to east his faeces. Surely Ntate Molibeli what nonsense is this? How on this earth can a human force another to eat their excrement? Isn’t this the height of sadism? Even in the worst of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and Idi Amin’s Uganda did we ever hear of people being forced to eat their own shit.
Whenever such an unprecedented sadistic and inhuman act is exposed, the next that all civilized humanity expects to see is action. But alas, what has depresses me the most is the stone silence that you have maintained Ntate Molibeli amid the escalating madness of the men under your command. Desmond Tutu is on record as saying silence in the face of despicable human rights abuses amounts to complicit. He is right. Does this mean these rogues in the LMPS are acting with your full blessings Ntate Molibeli? Why are you turning a blind eye? Why haven’t you spoken publicly against all this brutality?
After the humiliation of Ntate Ratia hit the headlines, why did you not convene a press conference to voice your outrage at the actions of those under your command and promise tough action? And amid all the international outcry against the brutality of your officers, why are you quiet. Why haven’t you addressed Basotho and told us what your plans are against the rogue terrorists in the LMPS masquerading as police officers and besmirching the name of the once venerable force?
While you maintain your silence, it’s left for Ntate Motsoahae to go and lie to SADC that action is or will be taken against the rogue officers. You surely are a disappointment Ntate Molibeli. You started with so much promise, now you are a dismal failure. Remember the saying that a fish rots from the head. If you as the head of the LMPS sees no evil, speaks no evil and hears no evil, then the entire LMPS will become horse manure.
Now the two major development partners of Lesotho have spoken out against the brutality of the LMPS. The EU ambassador to Lesotho, Ntate Christian Manahl, says he is utterly dismayed and disgusted with the LMPS. Premier Donald Trump’s energetic deployee to Maseru, Rebeccas Gonzales, has also been forthright against the rogueness of the LMPS. In fact Mme Gonzales has made it clear that Lesotho risks forfeiting billions of maloti in the Second Compact project if the LMPS maintains its prosaic waywardness and mindlessness. When these two high end diplomats speak, you must listen Ntate Molibeli. The behaviour of your officers is no longer a simple matter. It’s a massive catastrophe. Without the aid dollars from the EU and Uncle Sam, Lesotho is as good as dead. We would not have been able to build so many hospitals and schools were it not for Uncle Sam’s generosity in the First Compact. To lose the Second Compact, because of the behaviour of a few rogue officers (I really don’t know if they are few) who live and behave like over the top heroine addicts is just not on Ntate Molibeli.
The fact that the EU and US are now speaking should spur you into action Ntate Molibeli. These are two centres of world power that Lesotho cannot simply ignore without negative consequences.
What is most disappointing Ntate Molibeli is that whenever you are contacted for comment on reports of the brutality of the men and women under your command, you are quick to refer the questions to the LMPS spokesman Ntate Mopeli.
While it is acknowledged that Ntate Mopeli is indeed the spokesman of the LMPS, is this surely a matter for routine delegation to your junior amid all the outcry we have experienced over police brutality? Yes a good leader delegates but there are matters that cannot simply be delegated. Most Basotho expect you to have by now taken them into your confidence Ntate Molibeli. You ought to have by now addressed not only one major press conference, but many, telling us what it is exactly that you are doing to rein in your rouge officers.
Scrutator is a firm believer in the “eye for an eye” law. Unlike Martin Luther King I don’t believe that an “eye for an eye” approach would leave everyone blind. Just imagine the effectiveness of it all Ntate Molibeli if you identified the rogues in your service, parade them at a press conference, showcase them to all Basotho, force them to shit at the press conference and compel them to eat their own stool, like they did to Ntate Ratia, in full view of Basotho. That would be a master stroke.
What is debilitating is that while the LMPS devotes its attention to wantonly clobbering and terrorizing innocent Basotho, the real criminals continue roaming the streets free. This is real not funny Ntate Molibeli. You may not be an avid reader of current affairs. But you would have recently encountered a report that at least 12 000 Basotho risk losing their jobs as investors threaten to quit Lesotho over safety concerns and rising crime.
The bosses of these 12 000 plus Basotho recently spoke of their frustrations at the LMPS’s failure to protect them from marauding criminal malcontents. While the LMPS is busy torturing innocent Basotho and forcing them to eat their shit, these investors are being wantonly clobbered and robbed with no call back from the police. Now imagine Ntate Molibeli, 12 000 losing their jobs. Where will they go to work? They surely cannot all be accommodated into your LMPS. Yet this is the reality. Most of the bosses of these 12 000 are our textile bosses. Now Ntate Molibeli, if you see Chinese – of all people (– now threatening to quit a country, then just know that the situation is really, really bad.
These Chinese bosses who recently spoke to the Lesotho Times made it categorically clear that unless the LMPS addresses their safety concerns, they will vote with their feet. After all, there are many other destinations around the world wanting their investment. If this isn’t a wakeup call for you Ntate Molibeli, then what can it ever be?
“There are new investment destinations that have sprung up in recent times including Mauritius, Tanzania, Angola Mozambique and Ethiopia,” one frustrated Chinese textile boss recently said.
“Most of these have their own ports and they are much closer to our source and export markets. The labour costs are cheaper and the turnaround time for production and delivery is much faster than it is in Lesotho. This means that it makes economic sense to move to such places.
“But we have been here for close to three decades and we are still here because of the good relations we have with Basotho and the government. We want to stay for as long as possible but we cannot do so when our safety can no longer be guaranteed. The criminals have never been apprehended in previous cases and we no longer feel safe.
“The government should do more to ensure a secure environment or else we will leave and other potential investors will also be scared of coming to Lesotho. We are not experts in crime control but we believe the police should have more patrols to ensure our safety.”
This Chinese textile boss was probably lying that labour costs elsewhere are cheaper than those in Lesotho. I cannot imagine any other place with cheap labour than found in Lesotho for reasons we all know. Be that as it may, the rest of the words of this boss were prophetic. If the government does little to protect investors from crime, they will live for places where they will feel safe. The fact that this boss can lie that labour rates are cheaper in Mauritius, Angola etc than in Lesotho simply exemplified their desperation and frustration at police inaction.
So it’s over to you Ntate Molibeli. You started well. Buy you have now been very disappointing. Please remember you are not the head of Boqo Haram. But the LMPS, which is supposed to protect and not terrorise us. Show us you care by holding all the rogue officers who have committed heinous acts accountable