By B Zihlangu and K Mohloboli
MASERU — In a week of high drama in Lesotho, Deputy Commissioner of Police Keketso Monaheng, said he had been forced to go on leave in the wake of the heinous attacks on the homes of his new boss, Khothatso Tšooana, and prominent member of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) Liabiloe Ramoholi.
Monaheng said the decision to force him to go on leave shortly after such horrendous attacks, when his experience and talent would naturally be required in assisting in investigations, could only be reasonably interpreted to mean that he was being somehow suspected of being involved in planning the attacks.
The deputy commissioner, however, said he wished to vehemently and unequivocally reject any such suspicions as “I was not in any way involved in these attacks.”
Speculation was rife this week that Monaheng could have been sulking after he was bypassed for appointment as police commissioner in favour of Tšooana, whom Monaheng considers less experienced for the post than himself.
Monaheng has since dismissed such speculation as being unfounded.
Monaheng, who had been widely quoted on radio stations on Monday condemning the twin attacks, said he was on Tuesday served with a letter from Tšooana, informing him that he should go on leave with immediate effect because “your leave days have accumulated”.
“I got a letter from the Commissioner of Police informing me that my leave days were mounting and that I should go on leave to cut them down,” Monaheng said.
However, Monaheng said he was querying the leave. He said it was weird to be told “just out of the blue” that he should go on leave “that I did not apply for”.
“It is quite odd because I was not consulted before the decision was reached and I did not apply to go on leave either,” Monaheng said.
Monaheng added that it was very “peculiar” that he was being sent on forced leave in the same week that Tšooana and Ramoholi’s properties had been bombed.
He said the only reasonable inference to draw from his being sent on forced leave was that he was being suspected of involvement in the attacks.
“Being sent on leave in the same week that these abhorrent attacks took place prompts speculation that I could have been involved in the attacks,” Monaheng said. He admitted that speculation around town was accusing him of involvement in the attacks.
He said he therefore wanted to make it categorically clear that he wasn’t involved at all.
“There has been talk all over town linking me to these sadistic acts and it’s not right,” he said.
“I am a professional policeman and would never commit any crime. I want to make it categorically clear that I have nothing to do with these attacks. I was not involved and would never have been involved”.
Monaheng said it defied logic that anyone would even want to connect him to the attacks because he was “a very professional individual”.
“I’m a very professional police officer who would under no circumstances participate in abominable acts or act in an uncharacteristic manner when I feel hard done by,” Monaheng said.
“Secondly, when I am not content at work, I’m one person who does not hesitate to confront my bosses about issues or seek legal recourse if I have to,” Monaheng said.
“I’m also a Christian and being involved in such attacks would be going against my values and I’m not the kind of man who likes creating enemies.”
Monaheng added: “Who would be so cruel as to hurt children, leaving them with scars that they will carry for the rest of their lives? Certainly not me. My duty is to protect all citizens and not to inflict harm on them.”
Monaheng said as a man, he understood that the best approach was to seek amicable solutions to any problems and thrash out any issues that did not sit well with him and not to “keep a grudge like a woman”.
Monaheng said, without elaborating, that he had endured painful treatment in the police force recently. However, he said being accused of involvement in this week’s attacks on Tšooana and Ramoholi’s properties was “the last straw”.
“I’ve been subjected to painful treatment in the police in the past weeks but being sent on leave at this point in time is really saddening,” Monaheng said.
“But I can assure you that God is not a boy and that the perpetrators of these heinous acts will be exposed one day.”
Speculation has been rife that Monaheng is deeply angered by not being appointed police commissioner since he considers himself to be more deserving than Tšooana, his junior in age and service in the Lesotho Mounted Police (LMPS).
Monaheng was appointed acting commissioner of police in September 2013 when former Commissioner of Police Kizito Mhlakaza was sent on terminal leave. Mhlakaza has since left the LMPS.
However, in December Monaheng, who joined the police force in 1987, took leave to attend a three-week initiation school leaving Tšooana in the capacity of Deputy Commissioner of Police.
When he returned he was served with a letter informing him that he should return to being Deputy Commissioner of Police while Tšooana was elevated to the acting commissioner capacity. Tšooana has since been appointed substantive commissioner. The suspected grenade attack on his home has occurred barely a week into Tšooana’s substantive appointment.
Sources say though he might be younger than Monaheng in terms of age, Tšooana had impressed and distinguished himself as a capable policeman, resulting in his elevation.