Molibeli faces axe

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Pascalinah Kabi | Mohalenyane Phakela

 

PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro and his deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu, are said to have agreed to fire Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli.

Authoritative government sources said Dr Majoro and Mr Mokhothu met last week with Police and Public Safety Minister, Lepota Sekola, and agreed that Commissioner Molibeli must be relieved of his duties for incompetence.

One of the sources, said Commissioner Molibeli’s fate had been discussed in four cabinet meetings in the wake of the widespread outcry over police brutality against citizens, rampant killings as well as the generally high crime rate in the country. Agreement had been reached to dismiss him.

“Dr Majoro called the deputy prime minister last week on Tuesday after the cabinet meeting and they agreed that it was time to let Commissioner Molibeli go,” said a cabinet minister who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on the matter.

“He (Majoro) said the time had come for them to advise His Majesty of their decision to fire the commissioner. Unlike in the past when Dr Majoro wanted the commissioner to be given a soft landing via a redeployment to a foreign mission, he now agrees that Ntate Molibeli should just go home in the best interests of Basotho.

“We have discussed commissioner Molibeli’s future in four cabinet meetings. Even last week we talked about the issue. All these discussions were triggered by intelligence reports from the NSS. It has taken long to reach a decision to fire him because we didn’t want a repeat of Ntate Thabane’s unsuccessful bid to dismiss him. This is why Sekola was asked to consult his ministry’s legal department for advice on the issue.”

The source was referring to Mr Thabane’s failed bid to fire Commissioner Molibeli early last year. LEPOSA had petitioned him to get rid of the police boss for his alleged maladministration of the police force.

Mr Thabane did in fact fire Commissioner Molibeli only for his decision to be overturned by the High Court early last year on the grounds that it was unprocedural. Commissioner Molibeli successfully pleaded that the real reason for the purported dismissal was because he was investigating the premier for the murder of his ex-wife and he was just using the LEPOSA and other issues as a ruse.   LEPOSA renewed its quest to have him dismissed when Dr Majoro replaced Mr Thabane who had been forced to step down by his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party in May 2020 over allegations that he plotted the murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo.

However, Dr Majoro, who replaced Mr Thabane refused to fire the police boss, saying there were no credible grounds to do so. LEPOSA even accused the Majoro administration of siding with Commissioner Molibeli and refusing to fire him because it is “indebted” to him for allegedly helping them to bring down Mr Thabane’s government last year.

Another source said Minister Sekola had told his ministry’s legal team to prepare a “watertight” case against Commissioner Molibeli. The source said the minister and the legal team subsequently agreed that they had enough ammunition in the form of NSS reports and a report by the Development for Peace Education (DPE) which placed Commissioner Molibeli “at the centre of the continued instability in the police force.

“The DPE report showed that most of the people interviewed by the human rights organisation had called for the sacking of Commissioner Molibeli over his alleged incompetence. We expect that Ntate Majoro and Ntate Mokhothu will request a meeting with the King anytime from now to inform him of their decision to fire Commissioner Molibeli,” said the source.

The source said that Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Beleme Lebajoa and Senior Superintendent Teboho Masaile were the frontrunners to replace Commissioner Molibeli.

Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, said he could not comment on the issue as he was “on sick leave”. He referred all questions to Minister Sekola

Efforts to get a comment from Mr Sekola failed. He initially said he could not talk because his phone’s signal was poor because he was travelling. Later on, his phone was answered by someone who claimed to be his bodyguard. The man said the minister was in a meeting. Yesterday, his phone rang unanswered.

NSS Director General, Pheello Ralenkoane, denied that they had submitted an intelligence report placing Commissioner Molibeli at the centre of the instability in the police force.

He said they did not compile reports on their counterparts in the security agencies. “It is not true that we compiled such a report. Those are fabrications. It is not the responsibility of the NSS to deal with a sister institution,” Mr Ralenkoane said.

DPE boss, Sofonea Shale, was unreachable on his mobile phone.

On his part, DPE Education Researcher, Lemohang Molibeli, said he was not aware of any report his organisation may have submitted to the authorities. He said Mr Shale was best placed to say if such a report had been submitted to the government.

However, the government sources insisted that Dr Majoro and Mr Mokhothu had agreed that Commissioner Molibeli had to go.

Mr Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress (DC) has never been a fan of the police boss. Before joining the government, the DC and other opposition parties had spoken out against his appointment by Mr Thabane’s administration in 2017.

The opposition had alleged that Commissioner Molibeli and other heads of state institutions like NSS boss Ralenkoane had been appointed on partisan grounds.

Earlier this year, some DC sources told this publication that they were lobbying for Commissioner Molibeli’s dismissal in exchange for their continued support for Dr Majoro. This after his support base within his own ABC had been weakened by the April 2021 split which saw former deputy leader, Nqosa Mahao, dump the party to form his own Basotho Action Party (BAP).

Professor Mahao left with nine ABC legislators. Mokhotlong MP, Tefo Mapesela, also left to form his Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP).

Should Commissioner Molibeli be fired, this would bring to an end a four-year tenure which has been marred by allegations of ineptitude, particularly the failure to deal with police brutality against ordinary citizens.

Just last week, Commissioner Molibeli came under fire after 75 guns were stolen from the Mafeteng Police Station armoury. LEPOSA seized on the incident, saying it vindicated its longstanding demand for him to be fired. But the police chief has cut a defiant figure, saying he remains the right man to lead the police force. (See story below).

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