- Recruits forced to contribute to their upkeep
- Training extended by a further six months
THE POLICE Training College (PTC) is battling with crippling financial challenges that have seen it struggling to feed over 200 police recruits for the past four months, impeccable sources within the force have said.
So dire is the situation- according to the sources- that the recruits are now being forced to contribute M300 each towards their upkeep. The sources further say that the crisis at the college also forced the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) to postpone the official pass-out of the recruits to November 2018.
The pass-out, which should have been held in July this year, is said to have been postponed because the LMPS does not have the money to purchase uniforms for the recruits as soon they are officially police officers.
When contacted for comment this week, Police Spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli confirmed that the recruits’ training period had been extended. Supt Mopeli however, denied that this had anything to do with the alleged financial crisis within the police force.
However, authoritative sources within the PTC corridors told the Lesotho Times that the recruits were supposed to undergo the normal six-month training like their predecessors but this was not to be due to the financial challenges the LMPS was experiencing.
The recruits began their training in February 2018 and their pass-out was initially scheduled for the end of July 2018.
“For the first three months, everything went smoothly and there was enough food to feed the recruits,” said one source.
“We all knew that the pass-out was scheduled for July 2018 but we were shocked when we were later told that the pass-out has been pushed to November because the police did not have money to buy them uniform.”
The source said they were further shocked when they were told to inform the recruits that the authorities had decided that each of the recruits was now supposed to contribute M100 towards their upkeep at the college.
Another source said M100 was collected from each of the recruits in May and June 2018 before the amount was increased to M300 per person for the months of July and August.
“The contribution was however, increased and since July, the recruits have been contributing M300 each towards meals. Their pass-out has since been postponed to November this year because in addition to the shortage of funds to feed them, we don’t have money to buy them uniforms. That is why there was no pass-out in July.”
Some of the parents of the recruits who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity also confirmed the allegations.
“My son has been contributing monies up to M300 for the groceries at the PTC for the past four months. Despite those contributions, the meals are not satisfactory because they are still eating lesheleshele (soft porridge) for breakfast.
“They were supposed to have completed the training by now but they were suddenly told that they can only graduate in November because the LMPS does not have money to buy uniforms for them,” one parent said.
Another parent said they were taken aback when they learnt that their children were contributing monies towards groceries during their stay at the PTC.
“Last Friday we visited them (recruits) at the PTC. They are no longer allowed to go out for fear that they will tell people, especially the media, about what is going on there. They have completed the training and the instructors have already been released. The only thing they are doing there is waiting for their pass out which has been rescheduled to November.
“The LMPS is broke and the recruits are contributing monies towards their groceries. At first, they contributed M100 each and for the past two months they have contributing M300 each,” the parent said.
Supt Mopeli said there was nothing amiss about the recruits contributing to their upkeep, adding that even previous recruits had also contributed M100 towards the maintenance of the college.
He also confirmed that the recruits would only have a pass-out parade in November. He however, denied that this had anything to do with financial challenges, saying the decision to extend the training period was reached after the police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, “met different stakeholders in a closed meeting”.
“It is not true that the recruits are contributing towards the purchase of their food but each recruit is expected to contribute M100 for college maintenance. I don’t know where the issue of M300 comes from.
“In a closed meeting with different stakeholders, the Commissioner of Police announced that unlike in the past where the training only lasted for six months, the current recruits would train for a year. So, it is not true that they are still at PTC because of lack of funds to buy uniforms,” Supt Mopeli said.
Pressed further, he confirmed that the training instructors had already been released. He further said it was not the business of the recruits to know why the instructors had been released and the recruits were only given information on a need to know basis. He however, could not say how the training was being conducted in the absence of the instructors who had already been allowed to go.
“Like I have said before, I have been informed that there are no challenges at the PTC. But I can tell you that the entire police service does not have uniforms. Even those already in service do not have uniforms but that has not stopped any police officer from executing their duties.
“So, it cannot be true that the recruits are still there because of the lack of uniforms. Their training will last for a year and they will graduate when that time comes,” he said. This is despite the fact that the training instructors have already been released.
Last month the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was told that the LMPS was stuck with uniforms worth at least M3, 4 million that cannot be used because their sizes were too small.
The uniforms were supplied by a company that was awarded the contract through a controversial selective tendering process marred by allegations of corruption and violations of procurement regulations.
The PAC was further told, by one Lance Sergeant ‘Mathebe Motseki, that she was forced to process payments for goods and services that were never delivered to the police force.
Among others payments, Lance Sergeant Motseki said she was ordered to pay for six oxen which had not been delivered. The oxen were supposed to be slaughtered to provide meat for the police recruits and for their pass out ceremony. She said she was victimised to refusing to process the payments.
Lance Sergeant Motseki, who worked at the accounts office of the Police Training College (PTC) in Maseru, said hers became a living hell in the police office after she resisted the corrupt practices of her superiors.
She told the PAC that her troubles in the police service started as far back as 2011 following the deployment of former deputy commissioner of police, Mahlape Morai as the director at PTC.
Dr Morai has since resigned from the police service and is now chairperson of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
Lance Sergeant Motseki accused Dr Morai, former Police Commissioner, Kizito Mhlakaza and former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Tšeliso Moerane, (who was then the PTC administrator) of victimising her for refusing to pay process payments for questionable orders for the supply of goods and services. Mr Mhlakaza has since retired from the police service.
Lance Sergeant Motseki said she and her co-worker, only identified as Makhetha, were arm-twisted into making payments for goods which were not delivered. She said that there were times when her superiors presented her with delivery notes even though the goods were not delivered.
“One of my tasks was to double-check the delivery of the supplied goods at the store before we processed payments,” Lance Sergeant Motseki said.
“Sometimes the delivery note would be produced even though the goods were not delivered. For example, there was once a delivery note for overalls for the goods which were not there. I notified Mme Makhetha that the goods had not been delivered even though there were delivery notes. She checked and found that the goods had not been delivered. We were nonetheless asked to process the payments for the overalls order,” Lance Sergeant Motseki said.
She said she and her then co-workers, one senior accountant Ms Qacha and accountant Retšelisitsoe Kapa, were further surprised when a second delivery note for six more oxen was presented. She said there was no proof that those other oxen were indeed delivered and as a result she advised the two co-workers not to process their payments.