Acting Police Commissioner told to choose between reverting to previous post or early retirement
ACTING Police Commissioner Masupha Masupha was yesterday given an ultimatum to either revert to his “old” position of Deputy Commissioner of Police or go on early retirement, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
Commissioner Masupha was appointed to the top post in November last year, taking over from Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana who had just been sent on an indefinite leave-of-absence as part of the Maseru Security Accord (MSA) signed on 23 October 2014.
Under the MSA brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Commissioner Tšooana, Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao and Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli — who had been fired by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane but was refusing to vacate the post, citing the dismissal was illegal — were required to go to an African or Commonwealth country on special leave. The departure sought to allow the restoration of peace between the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and LDF, whose continued feuding — mainly due to personality clashes between Commissioner Tšooana and Lt Gen Kamoli — had brought Lesotho to the brink of civil war.
The absence of the trio was also meant to ensure peace prevailed in Lesotho in the run-up to the 28 February 2015 snap elections.
In the absence of the three men, Commissioner Masupha was supposed to lead the LMPS but according to sources privy to the case, he had allegedly since fallen out with Dr Thabane, as well as Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane — the premier’s ally in the coalition government.
Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), BNP and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) led by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012 general election had failed to produce an outright majority winner. However, the alliance has since collapsed due to a bitter turf-war between Dr Thabane and Mr Metsing.
According to the sources, Commissioner Masupha (51) had been caught in the crossfire of the infighting and was being accused of being sympathetic to Mr Metsing, hence his removal as Acting Police Commissioner and immediate replacement by Commissioner Holomo Molibeli (48).
Commissioner Molibeli’s appointment letter dated 4 February 2015 and signed by Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka reads: “It is with a lot of pleasure that I inform you that it has pleased His Majesty King Letsie III, pursuant to section 147 (3) of the constitution of Lesotho 1993 and section 5 of the Police Service Act 1998, and acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, to appoint you as Acting Commissioner of Police during the period of absence from office by the Commissioner, with effect from 4 February 2015. I congratulate you and wish you all success in this new assignment”.
The Lesotho Times was unable to obtain a copy of Commissioner Masupha’s letter, but according to the Ministry of Police Principal Secretary (PS) Refiloe Matekane, he had been given seven days in which to decide which route to take.
“Ntate Masupha was given an option of choosing between reverting to his position of Deputy Commissioner of Police or going for early retirement. He is expected to have decided which route to take, within seven working days effective from today (yesterday). That is all I can say at the moment regarding this issue,” Mr Matekane said last night.
On the other hand, Mr Mphaka would not comment on the issue and referred the Lesotho Times to Mr Matekane.
Repeated attempts to get a comment from Commissioner Masupha were not successful yesterday.
Commissioner Masupha, who was born on 31 May 1964, joined the LMPS on 1 January 1986 as a trooper and was supposed to retire in 2019 at the age of 55.
After rising through the ranks — from trooper he was promoted to sergeant, then Inspector, Senior Inspector, Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. Commissioner Masupha has become synonymous with the LMPS.
On the other hand, Commissioner Molibeli, who was born on 23 February 1969, joined the LMPS on 10 May 1988, also as a trooper or constable, as the lowest rank of the LMPS is now referred to.
He was then promoted to Sergeant, then Inspector, Senior Inspector, Superintendent, Senior Superintendent and Deputy Commissioner.