POLICE Commissioner Holomo Molibeli has appealed to the police and army to observe human rights and refrain from acts of brutality against citizens during the nationwide lockdown.
The 21-day lockdown began after midnight on Monday. It was announced last Wednesday by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane as part of efforts to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus which has infected hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 40 000 around the world.
The movement of people will be restricted during the lockdown except for those working in essential services such as the media, health, security agencies, banks, pharmacies, energy and fuel providers and agricultural services.
While announcing the lockdown, Dr Thabane ordered the army and police “to immediately effect strategies to curb this pandemic by controlling unnecessary movements of people”.
Health Minister Nkaku Kabi said the security forces had assured him that they were “ready to hit the ground running and do their job”.
Dr Thabane and Mr Kabi’s announcements had heightened fears that the security agencies, who have a history of brutality against citizens, could commit atrocities under the guise of enforcing compliance with the lockdown.
Commissioner Molibeli this week pleaded with the security forces to enforce the lockdown without resorting to torture and other human rights violations.
“I would like to plead with the police and army personnel to execute their mandate with respect and kindness,” Commissioner Molibeli said in a statement.
“We would not like to hear any reports of gross human violations on our people as we are there to help them where they seek our guidance.”
Commissioner Molibeli also appealed to civil servants not to steal or misappropriate protective equipment donated to help fight the deadly virus.
“This outbreak is not a joke and we have witnessed the havoc it has wreaked in some countries. We would therefore urge everyone to adhere to what medical personnel are advising us to do in order to curb this virus.
“This includes frequent washing and sanitisation of hands. It is our wish that by the end of this lockdown no one would have been infected or lost a life.
“I urge everyone to work in harmony with the police, security personnel and health workers as we all have a part to play to beat this pandemic. This is not the time for business people to take advantage by hiking prices and anyone who does that should be reported to the police on the telephone number 22322099,” Commissioner Molibeli said.