Home Comment Morai needs to devise a clear plan to reform LMPS

Morai needs to devise a clear plan to reform LMPS

by Lesotho Times
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BASOTHO must be relieved that former Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) boss, Holomo Molibeli, has hit the road.

His six years at the LMPS’s helm marked a dark period of torture and numerous civilian deaths at the hands of the police. Criminals were allowed to run rampant, in the process landing Lesotho at number six on the global homicidal scale.

In his place now is acting Commissioner of Police, Mahlape Morai, who promises to be a breath of fresh air.

Not only is she a woman, she is also a seasoned cop with 22 years’ experience and exposure, having worked closely with former Commissioner of Police, ‘Malejaka Letooane, who was Lesotho’s first female police boss.

How can we not mention Dr Morai’s academic credentials that make her an asset for the LMPS? As a PhD holder, her strong academic background, speaks to her abilities to acquire and apply knowledge effectively.

She surely possesses some of the core competencies expected of the head of the police service.

However, the fact that Prime Minister Sam Matekane has appointed Dr Morai to the coveted Commissioner of Police post on interim basis, for only three months, means that she does not have much time to assert herself and demonstrate her leadership skills and competence.  She will thus have to hit the road running in this short period to try and demonstrate her leadership abilities and prove she deserves the post on a permanent basis.

Three months is certainly an inadequate amount of time for Dr Morai to turn around the largely corrupt and useless LMPS. The high crime rate in Lesotho, which places the tiny 33 000 square kilometre country on number six on the global homicidal scales, is not something to eradicate in just three months.

Dr Morai herself said last week, when delivering her maiden speech as the new acting police commissioner, at the LMPS sword of command exchange ceremony at the Police Training College (PTC), that just 60 days into 2024, 109 Basotho had already been murdered, either due to drunken brawls, crimes of passion or revenge killings.

Lesotho is in dire straits.  It has become a country without a soul. We are just hanging by a thread.  We sit at the edge of the precipice.

What Dr Morai can therefore do in the three months she has been appointed to act is to devise and pronounce a clear comprehensive strategy on how the LMPS can be reformed and rehabilitated. She needs to come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce the alarming crime levels.

If the police do not devise a comprehensive and practical strategy to eradicate crime, this country will remain in the doldrums. Already, investors have been voting with their feet.

Dr Morai does not need to be conscientized on how important it is for Lesotho to fight and uproot crime if we are to realise the economic growth and investment levels needed to end poverty and perennial squalor.

Crime in all its forms must be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Granted, Dr Morai, albeit on an interim basis, is inheriting a dysfunctional, rotten police service.  All thanks to her predecessor, Holomo Molibeli.

What she can at least do now is explain how she proposes to remould the LMPs into a fit for purpose entity.

Even though Molibeli destroyed the LMPS, the imperative to reform the police force remains. The need for an effective police force remains. No country can survive without effective, accountable policing.

It is therefore a no brainer that Dr Morai has her work cut out for her.

Apart from devising an effective strategy to restore the LMPS and its crime fighting capabilities, she can also do herself a favour by ditching his predecessor’s old bad habits.

During his tenure Molibeli became notorious for fighting his subordinates. A lot of his time was spent on preparing court papers.  There was no cohesion in the police service.

He became the most litigious police boss ever.

He became the recipient of a record number of lawsuits for human rights abuses by the men and women under his command who gratuitously tortured and abused innocent civilians.

Molibeli also favoured his cronies for promotions. He was corrupt and had no conscience. All these are vices Dr Morai should jettison forthwith.

She should immediately rally all her forces behind her and a common vision to reform the police. She will need the support of all and sundry.

One reason why the country is in a mess is that Basotho in important offices of the State must constantly look over their shoulders for political interference.  Key institutions of the state have long been compromised and politicised.

We hope that Prime Minister Sam Matekane will stay true to his word, that his “government does not have interest in politicising the LMPS” as had been the case with other previous governments.

The LMPS needs a fresh start. The time before her is limited. But Dr Morai can at least show what she can do if given more time and permanently appointed to the coveted post.

 

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