Army takes over DPP’s security

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. . . DPP allegedly no longer trusts the police after falling out with Molibeli, Mokete

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has taken over the security of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane. This amid reports that she no longer feels safe under the watch of the police who have all along been responsible for her security.

The DPP has not always seen eye to eye with top police officers including Commissioner Holomo Molibeli and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Paseka Mokete. Besides trading public accusations about the lengthy delays in prosecuting murder-accused former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his wife, ‘Maesaiah, the DPP is prosecuting DCP Mokete for allegedly sexually assaulting a female subordinate in 2020.

There had initially been rumours that the police had withdrawn DPP Motinyane’s security but this publication has since established that the DPP had in fact requested the change herself.

LDF spokesperson, Captain Sakeng Lekola, yesterday confirmed that they were now in charge of the DPP’s security. He said this had been done after an “amicable agreement” between the army and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

“We have ways in which we operate jointly with the LMPS especially at a strategic level,” Captain Lekola said.

“We did that (taking over the DPP’s security) based on what is happening on the ground. We reached an agreement (to take over the DPP’s security) after we jointly considered the matter. This shows that there are warm working relations between the two security agencies,” Captain Lekola said, adding he could not reveal the exact details of their discussions with the police.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli would neither deny nor confirm the changes to DPP Motinyane’s security.

“We can’t talk about people’s security affairs. We wouldn’t discuss yours if ever we gave you protection. Security issues are private,” Senior Supt Mopeli said in an interview.

DPP Motinyane, Commissioner Molibeli and DCP Mokete all refused to comment on allegations that the DPP had requested army protection over fears for her safety due to bad blood between her and the police command.

Just last week, Commissioner Molibeli complained about the DPP’s decision to have South African Gareth Leppan prosecute the Thabanes’ trial for the 14 June 2017 murder of the former premier’s ex-wife, Lipolelo.

The police boss said the trial was initially supposed to be prosecuted by fellow South African, Shaun Abrahams, who is lead prosecutor for several other high-profile trials including former army commander, Tlali Kamoli, and others treason and murder case.

He suggested that the removal of Adv Abrahams had been done to ensure that the state presents a shoddy case which will lead to the Thabanes’ acquittal like what happened in other recent high-profile trials such as those of business mogul, Tšeliso Nthane, and Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs Minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse’s son, Thabo Moramotse. (See story below).

In addition, the DPP and DCP Mokete are not on the best of terms. Last week, the DPP appealed against DCP Mokete’s acquittal on sexual assault charges.

DCP Mokete had been accused of sexually assaulting one of his subordinates, Inspector ‘Makatleho Mphetho on 30 April 2020 by touching her buttocks, tearing her trousers and manhandling her.

He was acquitted on 12 May 2022 by Maseru Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi.

He was acquitted without even being put to his defence after Magistrate Murenzi ruled that the state had failed to prove that there was a prima facie case against him. His acquittal was yet another manifestation of the growing trend of high-profile acquittals due to the shoddy police investigations of alleged crimes and the equally shoddy prosecution of the cases thereafter. Other high-profile suspects who have been acquitted without event taking to the stand to defend themselves include murder-accused business mogul Nthane.

However, DPP Motinyane is unhappy with the trend of high-profile acquittals and has initiated processes to reverse them. Last month, the dissatisfied DPP Motinyane filed a notice to appeal Mr Nthane’s acquittal in the Court of Appeal.

In addition to that, she has now petitioned the High Court to overturn DCP Mokete’s acquittal.

DCP Mokete’s lawyer, Attorney Monaheng Rasekoai, had argued that his client should be acquitted on the grounds that no state witness had provided any compelling evidence warranting DCP Mokete to be put to his defence at the close of the case last month.

In her 8 June 2022 High Court application, DPP Motinyane argues that Magistrate Murenzi erred and misdirected himself when he acquitted DCP Mokete.

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