Cops drag bosses to court over Monaheng

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Keketso Monaheng
Keketso Monaheng

Keiso Mohloboli

The Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) is challenging the appointment of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Keketso Monaheng as Acting Police Commissioner.

LEPOSA, through their lawyer Makhetha Motšoari, wrote a letter dated 15 April 2015 and addressed to the ‘Staff Officer to the Commissioner of Police, requesting proof that Mr Monaheng’s appointment had been done according to the relevant laws.

The Lesotho Times understands under the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Act of 1998, the appointment and removal of the Commissioner is done by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Advocate Motšoari’s letter headlined ‘Letter appointing DCP Operations Mr Keketso Monaheng’, reads in part: “We are the legal representatives of LEPOSA referred to herein as client. We have in our possession a letter written from STAFF OFFICER TO COMPOL (Commissioner of Police) and staff  announcing the appointment of DCP Monaheng as Acting Commissioner of Police with effect from 8 April 2015.

“We are hereby instructed to request your good office to provide us with the letter appointing DCP Monaheng as such.

“We request the same letter within a period of two days upon receipt of this letter. Failure to comply with this request will leave us with no option but to approach the courts of law for proper remedy. We hope you find this in order.”

In his response, Assistant Commissioner of Police – Legal Services, Ezekiel Senti, was brief, pointing out in his letter dated 17 April 2015: “May you be referred to Section 9 of the Police Service Act, which is self explanatory that in the absence of the Commissioner, a senior officer is to take over and exercise the responsibilities of the substantive Commissioner of Police.”

However, apparently unsatisfied with the reply, LEPOSA, again through Advocate Motšoari, on Monday this week filed a Notice of Motion in the High Court indicating it would be filing an urgent application in the court this morning challenging Mr Monaheng’s appointment.

Mr Monaheng, the Minister of Police, Commissioner of Police and Attorney General, are cited as first to fourth respondent in the matter, respectively.

In his founding affidavit submitted before the court, LEPOSA General Secretary, Senior Inspector Motsamai Kholumo, noted under the Maseru Security Accord (MSA) signed on 23 October 2014, Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana was sent on leave-of-absence alongside Lesotho Defence Force’s Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

“As a result of the MSA, Deputy Commissioner of Police Masupha Masupha was appointed Acting Commissioner, which was terminated on 4 April 2015 with an offer for early retirement. DCP Masupha accepted the offer. I must indicate that after the termination, the office of commissioner was vacant and DCP Holomo Molibeli was appointed Acting Police Commissioner by His Majesty King Letsie III in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister,” Senior Inspector Kholumo noted in the affidavit.

He further highlights that DCP Molibeli had still not received a letter terminating the appointment but was told in a management meeting held on 8 April 2015 and chaired by the Minister of Police, Monyane Moleleki that “it was wrong for a junior to be acting while a senior is still around”.

The affidavit continues: “In a meeting attended by all police ministerial departments and the Commissioner’s Advisory Board (CAB), the Ministry of Police Principal Secretary (PS) Refiloe Matekane informed DCP Molibeli that DCP Monaheng would now be Acting Commissioner of Police and that he should handover the administration of the LMPS to him immediately.”

However, LEPOSA argues Mr Monaheng’s appointment was  unlawful “because it has not been done in accordance with the constitution of Lesotho read with the Police Service Act of 1998.”

Senior Inspector Kholumo notes Mr Monaheng had made “a few transfers of police officers already and we are not saying that police officers are not supposed to be transferred but the manner in which DCP Monaheng is doing the transfers shows that he is on a certain mission which we don’t know.

“I affirm that DCP Monaheng should be restrained from exercising the functions of the office of Acting Commissioner of Police pending finalisation of his appointment. I affirm that the appointment of DCP Monaheng and DCP Molibeli’s termination should be declared unlawful and illegal.

“The Police Act makes it a point that a senior officer will be appointed to act in the position of Commissioner when the Commissioner is absent, incapable or there is a vacancy.

“It must also be clear that the Commissioner of Police, Khothatso Tšooana, is back in the country from Algeria where he spent his leave-of-absence from 21 November 2014 until 1 April 2015 and as such, he has to resume his duties. Further, nobody has ever said the Commissioner is incapable of doing his job and it must also be clear that DCP Molibeli is still available and acting in that position and nobody can say he was absent.”

DCP Molibeli on Tuesday confirmed to the Lesotho Times that he his appointment as Acting Police Commissioner had not been officially terminated by the relevant authority.

“I was told by PS Matekane to vacate the office and handover duties to DCP Monaheng. I did as I was told and went back to Crime Investigation Services where I was before the appointment. In the eyes of the law, I understand that I am still the Acting Commissioner of Police”.

On the other hand, Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times that DCP Monaheng’s appointment as Acting Commissioner of Police was done according to the law.

“DCP Monaheng’s appointment as Acting Commissioner of Police was gazetted; get a copy of legal notice 53 of 2015 from government printers,” AG Makhethe said.

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