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Molibeli ordered to return seized LEPOSA property

by Lesotho Times
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. . . but police boss defies court order, again

Nthatuoa Koeshe

EMBATTLED Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, has been left with another egg on his face. This after the Maseru Magistrates’ Court ordered him to return Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) property which was seized on his orders on 16 November 2021.

The property includes cash books, cheque books, bank statements, LEPOSA stamps, internal requisition forms, receipts, invoices, insurance books, a firearms scheme file and four computers. It was seized during a raid on the police union’s offices as part of a probe of LEPOSA over its alleged failure to account for 159 firearms that it purchased for its members through a purchase scheme started in 2014.

The firearms were allegedly not accounted for in an audit report presented to the Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, in July this year. The audit was prepared by LEPOSA treasurer, ‘Mathebe Motseki.

However, Senior Resident Magistrate Thamae Thamae on Tuesday ordered the police to return the seized property, on the grounds that it had been illegally taken from LEPOSA.

“The property must be released forthwith to the applicant (LEPOSA) and/or its officers pending the final determination of this application,” Magistrate Thamae ordered.

But the police boss still had not complied with the order to release the LEPOSA property by yesterday.

LEPOSA treasurer Lance Sergeant Motseki yesterday said the police’s legal department had refused to release their property which is being kept at the Police Headquarters in Maseru.

“The police’s legal office was served with the court order to release our property on Tuesday. We then waited for more than half an hour before being told that we would not be given our property,” Lance Sergeant Motseki said in an interview with this publication.

She said they were now awaiting advice from their lawyers on the way forward.

Contacted for comment, Commissioner Molibeli yesterday denied knowledge of the court judgement ordering the return of LEPOSA property. He referred all questions to Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli. Senior Supt Mopeli also said he was not aware of the court order.

This is not the first time that Commissioner Molibeli has failed to comply with a court order.

Last month, he escaped jail after LEPOSA had petitioned High Court Judge, Molefi Makara, to imprison him for contempt of court. This after he had failed to comply with the same judge’s order to reverse the 2018 promotions of police officers.

Instead of jailing him, Justice Makara gave Commissioner Molibeli the benefit of doubt and ruled that he had been ill-advised by the police’s legal department.

Justice Makara then lambasted the police’s legal department for ill-advising Commissioner Molibeli.

“The court finds it regrettable, unprofessional and unfortunate for people trained in the law and in the ethical values of law and justice to mislead the Commissioner.

“This introduces an element of doubt in their own professional integrity as lawyers and their inclination to encourage the undermining of the rule of law. The court finds this pathetic, especially where this is a simple case in which other citizens profusely lament that their rights to equality and fairness were violated,” Justice Makara said.

This is the same legal department that appears to have again failed to advise Commissioner Molibeli of the Tuesday order by Magistrate Thamae for the return of LEPOSA property, if the Compol’s statement that he is not aware of the order is indeed true.

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