Molibeli in fresh court battle with subordinate

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Mohalenyane Phakela | Pascalinah Kabi

A FRESH war has broken out in the police command pitting Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, against one of his subordinates, Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Motlatsi Mapola.

ACP Mapola, the former head of complaints and discipline in the police force, alleges that Commissioner Molibeli wants to fire him to prevent him from finalising investigations against the police boss for allegedly defeating the ends of justice.

Commissioner Molibeli allegedly defeated the ends of justice by shielding former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane from investigation and arrest for allegedly assaulting one Thesele Matela sometime in 2017.

This week, ACP Mapola obtained an interim court order barring Commissioner Molibeli from hauling him before a disciplinary hearing until the finalisation of his application for a final order compelling Commissioner Molibeli to return the docket that the police had opened against Ms Thabane for allegedly assaulting Mr Matela.

ACP Mapola also wants Commissioner Molibeli to be barred from interfering with the assault investigations. He also wants his own hearing to be deferred until after he has completed his investigations into the Matela assault case.

Commissioner Molibeli, Police and Public Safety Minister, ‘Mamoipone Senauoane, and Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo are first to third respondents respectively in ACP Mapola’s application.

The interim interdict, issued yesterday by Justice Molefi Makara, lapses on 18 February 2021.

Ms Thabane allegedly assaulted Mr Matela at the state house in 2017. This after the latter had mistakenly called her husband, then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on his mobile phone. It is alleged that Mr Matela was summoned to state house by Ms Thabane who later joined forces with her friends to assault him.

He later reported the alleged assault and a case was opened at the Thamae Police Station in Maseru. However, while the matter was still being investigated, ACP Mapola alleges that Commissioner Molibeli, through his subordinate, ACP Beleme Lebajoa, demanded the docket from Thamae Police Station and ordered the closure of the case thus defeating the ends of justice to protect Ms Thabane.

ACP Mapola says following the closure of the case, the matter was reported to him by Mr Matela’s mother, Liketso Matela.

Before Ms Matela reported to ACP Mapola, she had allegedly met with Commissioner Molibeli who then took her to state house to present her case. ACP Mapola further alleges that after the state house visit, Ms Matela was given M5000 by ACP Lebajoa and ordered not to tell anyone about the alleged assault.

However, she reported the matter to ACP Mapola who then ordered the Thamae police to make a duplicate docket of the assault case which he forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, for prosecution.

ACP Mapola had then recommended the prosecution of Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Lebajoa to the DPP for allegedly defeating the ends of justice by protecting Ms Thabane from the assault charges.

On 5 August 2020, Adv Motinyane asked ACP Mapola to seek more information on the case, including the identity of the police officers who took Mr Matela to the state house where he was later assaulted. The DPP also wanted him to explain how Commissioner Molibeli was connected to the charges, ACP Mapola said.

According to ACP Mapola’s court papers, Commissioner Molibeli also seized the duplicate docket when it was returned from the DPP’s office for further information. He has allegedly retained it ever since thus hindering ACP Mapola from continuing with the case.

To his surprise, ACP Mapola says he was on 5 January 2021 served with a charge sheet accusing him of making false allegations against Commissioner Molibeli on 19 June 2020. He was ordered to appear before a disciplinary hearing.

This prompted him to file a 7 January 2021 court application to stop Commissioner Molibeli from acting against him.

“I must indicate that in the report (to DPP Motinyane), I indicated that the first respondent (Commissioner Molibeli) should be prosecuted for defeating the course of justice,” ACP Mapola states in his court papers.

“It is clear that the first respondent, by taking the docket away from the Thamae police and ordering its closure, was solely acting to protect the then first lady so that Thesele Matela would not see justice for his case.

“It is clear that he (Molibeli) is defeating the ends of justice,” ACP Mapola states in his affidavit.

ACP Mapola also argues that the disciplinary action is aimed at getting him dismissed from the force to clear the way for Commissioner Molibeli to bury the Matela assault case for good.

“The purpose of the charge sheet is nothing but a mechanism designed to enable the first respondent (Commissioner Molibeli) to put me on interdiction so that I will not be able to proceed with the criminal investigations against the first respondent.

“I aver that the application is extremely urgent and should be treated as such as I am likely to be interdicted from the police service in order to hinder the progress of the Matela case. Should I be interdicted, then the case of Matela will never see a day in court as no officer is brave enough to take the case and investigate the Commissioner of Police. The aim of the first respondent is to dismiss me from service in order to avoid criminal charges at all costs.

“I am only doing my official duty which I took oath to do without fear of favour to see Matela’s case seeing justice like any other case in the country,” ACP Mapola states.

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