Molibeli faces jail over failure to reinstate recruits

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Mohalenyane Phakela

EMBATLED Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli will tomorrow attempt to convince the High Court not to send him to jail.

This after he failed to abide by a June 2022 High Court judgement compelling him to reinstate 12 recruits who were dismissed from the Police Training College (PTC) in May 2022.

Judge Tšeliso Mokoko had on 29 June 2022 ruled that Commissioner Molibeli’s decision to expel the recruits was “irregular and wrongful and therefore, null and void”.

The 12 are Moliehi Dlamini, Mokhethi Damane, Lebaka Matiea, Kopano Ramokhoro, Ngaka Lenka, Mojela Gugushe, Thabang Maime, Lechesa Lepheane, Poloko Sekhohola, Refiloe Kheleli, Moorosi Kalane and Sebongile Cekwane.

They were however, denied entry into PTC over the weekend. Their lawyer, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, subsequently rushed back to court to file a contempt of court application against Commissioner Molibeli.

The police then applied for a stay of execution of Justice Mokoko’s judgment, pending an appeal against the reinstatement order.

His application for a stay of execution was yesterday dismissed by Justice Mokoko.

“The court declines to entertain an application for a stay of execution by the applicants (Molibeli and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa) until such a time when they would have complied with the order of this court (for the reinstatement of the recruits). The (recruits’) contempt application will proceed on 8 July 2022,” Justice Mokoko ruled.

The net effect of yesterday’s ruling is that Commissioner Molibeli would have to tomorrow convince the court not to imprison him for contempt.

Justice Mokoko had ordered the reinstatement of the recruits into the police training programme in Maseru without any loss of status and benefits.

“The respondent is hereby ordered and directed to reinstate the applicants back into the Police Training College recruitment programme without loss of status and benefits and to pay the applicants any arrear salaries which may have been paid in their absence,” Justice Mokoko ruled on 29 June 2022.

At the time of their dismissal, police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, said the recruits were sent home after they were found to be “medically unfit to begin training while the others were dismissed due to their unbecoming behaviour”.

Police sources had said four women were found to be pregnant, while the male recruits were suspected of involvement with the notorious juvenile criminal gang known as Manomoro.

Manomoro is a gang of hardened youthful ex-convicts who include Famo musicians in their ranks. They can be identified by their tattoos. The gang terrorised residents in various parts of Maseru and its environs last year. They were accused of theft, burglaries, armed robberies, rape and assault among other crimes.

Justice Mokoko’s ruling is a yet another blow to Commissioner Molibeli who is facing the sack over a plethora of charges including his failure to address police brutality and escalating crime rates.

This is not his first time to be hauled to court on contempt of court charges. In November 2021, Justice Molefi Makara spared him jail time after he had failed to honour his order to reverse the police promotions.

The Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) had petitioned the High Court after Commissioner Molibeli had not reversed the promotions of the 171 police officers as per Justice Makara’s 17 June 2021 order.

However, the Justice Makara spared Commissioner Molibeli, saying that the police boss had been ill-advised by the police’s legal department.

It remains to be seen whether Commissioner Molibeli will survive this time before Justice Mokoko.

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