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Govt wants top SADC security officers booted out

by Lesotho Times
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South African Police Service Lieutenant Colonel and Brigadier accused of leaking confidential information to ‘enemies’.

Keiso Mohloboli

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has requested the removal of two senior South African Police Service (SAPS) officers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission overseeing Lesotho’s roadmap to political stability.

The officers—a Lieutenant Colonel and Brigadier and whose names are known to the Lesotho Times but have been withheld for now—have been accused of consorting with Dr Thabane’s “enemies” and undermining the regional bloc’s efforts to restore normalcy to the troubled kingdom, which was plunged into chaos following an abortive coup on 30 August 2014.

According to sources who spoke to the Lesotho Times on condition of anonymity, the two senior SAPS officers are allegedly holding “secret” meetings with opposition politicians and leaking confidential information regarding the SADC mission and the premier’s security.

Dr Thabane has been under SAPS guard since returning from South Africa on 3 September 2014, following his escape into the neighbouring country five days earlier after being tipped-off about the pending coup.

Other top government officials, among them Sports Minister and Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana, are also under SAPS guard.

However, according to the source, the premier and Chief ‘Maseribane have expressed concern that highly confidential information regarding their whereabouts and the SADC Mission was increasingly becoming common knowledge among their “enemies” and suspect the two officers to be the moles.

The source also said one of the officers is suspected to be romantically involved with one of the premier’s “sworn” enemies.

Government Secretary (GS) Moahloli Mphaka last night confirmed to the Lesotho Times that his office had written to SADC Facilitator to the Lesotho crisis, Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting the removal of the two officials from Lesotho with immediate effect as their continued presence could trigger yet another crisis.

Mr Mphaka said: “My good office issued that letter to the SADC Facilitator on Monday this week, and it was very, very  confidential. I am not going to go into details regarding the letter, suffice to say the government was becoming endangered and no longer comfortable having the two officials around.

“However, it should be clear that the request is not meant to undermine the integrity of the two officials but protect their dignity, and good relations between Lesotho and South Africa and indeed, the rest of the SADC region.”

Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, would not discuss the issue when the Lesotho Times called him last night.

“I can’t confirm or deny anything because communication between Mr Ramaphosa and the government of Lesotho is confidential and cannot be discussed through the media,” Mr Mamoepa said.

SADC Head of Mission to Lesotho, Fannie Phakola confirmed receiving the letter from the government, but also refused to discuss its contents in detail.

“What I can tell you is that at the moment, there is no police officer who has been sent back to South Africa due to any act of misconduct. My people are still on the ground protecting the prime minister and other top government officials here.

“The matter is being discussed by the relevant SADC officials and I don’t want to comment of issues that are in progress,” Mr Phakola said.

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