Moment of truth for Molibeli

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  • as he appears in court to challenge Majoro’s moves to oust him

Moorosi Tsiane

THE day of reckoning has finally come for Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli.

The embattled police boss is today expected to appear before the Constitutional Court as part of his quest to stop Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro from advising His Majesty, King Letsie III, to fire him.

The premier wants him fired over a plethora of charges including his incompetence and failure to tackle the thorny issue of police brutality against citizens.

But the commissioner is not prepared to go down without a fight.

Commissioner Molibeli has already approached the High Court on the same issue and his case is pending before that court. He now wants the Constitutional Court to issue an interlocutory order to stop what he says is Dr Majoro’s “abuse of power”.  An interlocutory order is a temporary order issued during the course of litigation, mainly between the commencement and conclusion of proceedings in any particular case.  If his application succeeds, Commissioner Molibeli would have bought time to remain in office until the High Court concludes his challenge of Dr Majoro’s decision, a process that may be very protracted.

Commissioner Molibeli alleges that by proceeding with his plans to oust him while the matter is pending in the High Court, Dr Majoro is usurping that court’s powers to adjudicate on the matter that is already before it.

Not only is Dr Majoro trampling on the independence of the judiciary, his conduct is in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers, Commissioner Molibeli argues.

Dr Majoro, Police and Public Safety Minister Sekola Lepota, Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa and King Letsie III are the first to fourth respondents respectively in the police boss’ application.

Commissioner Molibeli filed his Constitutional application a fortnight ago. Dr Majoro and other respondents were given until 14 June 2022 to file their answering affidavits to the application. The police boss was ordered to file his replying affidavit on 17 June and thereafter, both sides should file their heads of arguments on or before 21 June with the matter being set down for hearing today.

In his lengthy founding affidavit, Commissioner Molibeli argues that Dr Majoro’s decision to advise His Majesty to retire him is “unconstitutional” and should therefore be declared null and void.

“I aver that the decision of the first respondent (Majoro) to proceed to advise His Majesty to require me to retire is unconstitutional and null and void ab initio (from the beginning) for the following reasons:

“Dr Majoro, being part of the executive branch of the government, deliberately took the step to advise His Majesty to require me to retire with full knowledge of the pendency of the same issues in a civil application before the High Court. The same issues in the matter are rendered moot and academic as they would have been overtaken by events (if Molibeli is retired).

“Thus, there will no longer be live controversy between me and Dr Majoro for the High Court to pronounce on. Consequently, the High Court would have actively and deliberately been prevented to determine the very same issues with which it is currently seized with in that same civil application,” Commissioner Molibeli argues.

He argues that the High Court must be left to decide his application without undue interference by the premier.

“Majoro is therefore consciously usurping the judicial power of the High Court thereby violating the fundamental constitutional doctrine and principle of the separation of powers. Majoro, as the Prime Minister and Head of the Executive, is effectively deciding the matter which otherwise has been removed from his purview and is now within the exclusive domain of the High Court to determine. He is thereby interfering with the High Court from exercising its discretion, authority, jurisdiction and judgement over the matter…

“I aver that the first respondent’s decision is thus reviewable on these constitutional grounds and the declarator of unconstitutionality thereof is appropriate,” Commissioner Molibeli argues.

He goes on to disingenuously blames the LMPS’ incompetence on lack of resources.

This is despite glaring evidence that policing standards have collapsed under his watch. Serious crimes have become endemic, murders have escalated to the extent that Lesotho is now the leading homicidal nation in Africa’s 54 countries and sixth in the world.  So bad have become the police under Molibeli, that they cannot even probe simple, straight forward crimes.

Just last week, the trigger-happy police officers gunned down National University of Lesotho (NUL) student, Kopano Makutoane.

Fellow students say the 22-year-old Makutoane was shot five times in the face by the trigger-happy police officers during last Thursday’s student protests against the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)’s decision to cut students’ monthly allowances by more than half.

Seven other students are said to have been wounded in the skirmishes and are now recuperating at St Joseph’s Hospital, a stone throw away from the university’s main campus in Roma.

Political parties, civil society organisations and international development partners like the European Union (EU) have condemned the dastardly police actions and called for action against the rogue officers.

It is difficult to see how Commissioner Molibeli will emerge unscathed from the brutality visited on students and other ordinary citizens by his officers.

 

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