…feuding top cops will now have to fight it out in court
POLICE Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, and his subordinate, Motlatsi Mapola, have failed to agree on an out of court settlement of their dispute stemming from the police boss’ January 2021 move to dismiss the latter.
As a result, High Court Judge Molefi Makara will now hear Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mapola’s application to stop Commissioner Molibeli from ousting him from the police service. According to Justice Makara’s clerk, Advocate Eric Ramalefane, the judge will hear the application on 6 September 2021.
Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Mapola have been locked in a legal battle since January this year when Commissioner Molibeli moved to get rid of ACP Mapola who reacted by petitioning the High Court to stop his boss.
Even though the matter was pending in court, Commissioner Molibeli in March sent ACP Mapola on forced leave pending his retirement which is only due on 8 March 2023.
“This letter serves to notify you of your leave pending retirement from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) effective from 22 March 2021 to 8 March 2023 which will be your last day of service.
“You currently have 511 days annual holiday leave. Any leave taken after receipt of this letter will not be approved,” Commissioner Molibeli stated in his 19 March 2021 letter to ACP Mapola.
This only aggravated the two’s fight and last month, last month Justice Makara ordered them to hold talks aimed at resolving the issue out of court.
Since ACP Mapola was already on forced leave pending his retirement, there would be no need to hear his application to stop his dismissal if the two could agree on how to best handle the issue, Justice Makara had said.
Just Makara had promised to endorse their out of court settlement as an order of court if they had reached it.
But Adv Ramalefane told the Lesotho Times the two top cops had failed to reach a settlement. Justice Makara has therefore resolved to hear ACP Mapola’s application to stop his ouster on 6 September 2021, Adv Ramalefane said.
“The two have failed to reach a consensus so the judge has resolved to hear the matter on 6 September 2021,” Adv Ramalefane said.
Both Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Mapola were not reachable for comment on the matter.
In his court papers, 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.
In January 2021, 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 the police chief 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.
Commissioner Molibeli, former Police and Public Safety Minister, ‘Mamoipone Senauoane, and the Attorney General are the first to third respondents respectively in ACP Mapola’s application.
Ms Thabane allegedly assaulted Mr Matela at 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, Deputy Commissioner 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 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.