Govt accused of shielding Molibeli

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Lesotho Mounted Police Service Staff Association (LEPOSA) has accused the Moeketsi Majoro-led administration of shielding Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, from accounting for his alleged incompetency and maladministration of the police force.

This after Prime Minister Majoro allegedly missed a meeting with LEPOSA last week to discuss the findings of an inter-ministerial inquiry into the instability within the police service.

LEPOSA and the Molibeli-led police command have been at each other’s throats for more than a year now.

The militant police union accuses Commissioner Molibeli of bias and ineptitude in handling police grievances. LEPOSA alleges that since taking charge in August 2017, Commissioner Molibeli has unprocedurally promoted his close allies like Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Paseka Mokete and Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Beleme Lebajoa.

LEPOSA also accuses Commissioner Molibeli of failing to deal decisively with the thorny issue of police brutality. It has petitioned Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to fire him.

In turn, the police boss has accused LEPOSA members of insubordination and engaging in open rebellion against his lawful command. He has even initiated processes to dismiss members of the LEPOSA executive.

Worried by the instability which could result from the Molibeli-LEPOSA standoff, Dr Majoro appointed an inter-ministerial committee to probe the police force in August this year.

The committee comprised of Police and Public Safety Minister ‘Mamoipone Senauoane, fellow ministers Prince Maliehe (Defence and National Security), Kemiso Mosenene (Prime Minister’s Office) and Professor Nqosa Mahao (Law and Justice) who was its chairperson.

It was appointed on 6 August 2020 and it began its work four days later by summoning Commissioner Molibeli to give evidence on the year-long infighting between him and LEPOSA.

It completed its work and submitted its report to Dr Majoro in September. However, the committee’s findings are yet to be made public.

Although they have not been released, Dr Majoro in September said that preliminary findings indicated that the problems bedevilling the police force are much deeper than the ongoing Molibeli-LEPOSA fight as they are long-standing and also include the politicisation of the force.

The full report was presented in cabinet last Tuesday and according to well-placed government sources, Commissioner Molibeli received his copy last Thursday.

However, LEPOSA has not received the report despite being a “primary stakeholder” in the inquiry.

LEPOSA says it was supposed to receive its copy last week at a meeting with Dr Majoro. It says the premier did not show up for that meeting.

It now accuses the government of shielding Commissioner Molibeli from having to account for his alleged failings as police boss.

In his 20 November 2020 letter to LEPOSA members, LEPOA secretary general, Sub-Inspector Moraleli Motloli, says they had to abort a planned meeting with Dr Majoro last Wednesday after the latter failed to show up.

“Cognisant of the need to give information to the entire membership, the administration of this noble association can with a heavy heart reveal that the (inquiry) report has been released on Monday this week and the commissioner was issued with a copy,” Sub-Insp Motloli states in his letter to LEPOSA members.

“On Wednesday 18 November 2020, our administration was called by the honourable prime minister to receive a copy but the meeting was not successful due to the honourable prime minister not showing up. We note with regret that till today the association has not got its copy despite being the primary stakeholder in the enquiry. The association will keep you abreast on the developments around this issue,” Sub-Insp Motloli states.

LEPOSA spokesperson, Police Constable Motlatsi Mofokeng, this week said they still had not received a copy of the inter-ministerial committee’s report.

“We have not received the report. The truth of the matter is that government is ashamed to release the report because it knows that it is supposed to face Holomo Molibeli with the facts that were presented during the inquiry.

“For example, we presented evidence that Holomo had irregularly promoted his people in the police service. The government has evidence to that effect but it does not have the guts to confront Holomo Molibeli with these facts.

“We again presented evidence that Holomo does not want to take action against Paseka Mokete who has a sexual offence case in court. Again, the government does not want to confront Holomo with this evidence,” PC Mofokeng said.

DCP Mokete has been charged “with a sexual offence” after he allegedly touched the buttocks of Inspector ‘Makatleho Mphetho near parliament without her consent on 29 April 2020.

He is also charged with assault after he “unlawfully and intentionally” assaulted Inspector Mphetho by pulling and dragging her on the ground. He is further charged with “malicious damage” after he allegedly tore the pair of trousers Inspector Mphetho was wearing when the sexual offence was allegedly committed.

He first appeared in court on 13 July 2020 and he released on free bail by Magistrate Senekal Qobolo. His case is still pending before Senior Resident Magistrate Phethise Motanyane.

“The long and short of it is that government is fully aware of the overwhelming evidence that has been presented against Holomo Molibeli and it does not want to confront him with those facts hence its decision not to release the report,” PC Mofokeng said.

Dr Majoro’s office had promised to release the inter-ministerial committee’s report on 18 November 2020 but it still has not done so. The premier’s press attaché, Mosito Moqhekoana, had promised to shed light on the issue but he had not done so at the time of going to print yesterday.

Back in September, Dr Majoro said, “preliminary briefings indicate that the police issues are deep-rooted”.

“The problems are not only between the commissioner and LEPOSA, they are deep-rooted and involve party politics.

“The fights date as far back as 2012. There is no easy solution to this issue. We need to find means and ways of making peace among the warring sides in the police service.

“There are certain wrongs that must be corrected. The police management have their hands full looking into problems that were left unattended for a long time. These long-standing issues were not corrected to an extent that we are now faced with serious tensions in the police service.

“We will deal with issues in the police service. It is not going to be an overnight process. We are all going to work hard to mend fences between warring sides in the police force to achieve peace and stability.,” Dr Majoro said.

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