THE entrenched corruption in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) was this week exposed by a senior police officer who told Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that she was forced to process payments for goods and services that were never delivered to the police force.
Last week it emerged that the LMPS was stuck with uniforms worth millions at least M3, 4 million that cannot be used because their sizes are too small.
The uniforms were supplied by a company that was awarded the contract through a controversial selective tender marred by allegations of corruption and violation of procurement regulations.
And this week more dirt in the police procurement dealings was revealed when Lance Sergeant ‘Mathebe Motseki appeared before the PAC.
Lance Sergeant Motseki revealed how she was allegedly victimised by senior police officers for resisting their attempts to pressure her into processing payments for goods and services which were never delivered to the LMPS.
Lance Sergeant Motseki, who worked at the accounts office of the Police Training College (PTC) in Maseru, said hers became a living hell in the police office after she resisted the corrupt practices of her superiors.
She told the PAC that her troubles in the police service started in 2011 following the deployment of former deputy commissioner of police, Mahlape Morai as the director at PTC.
Dr Morai has since resigned from the police service and is now chairperson of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
Lance Sergeant Motseki accused Dr Morai, former Police Commissioner, Kizito Mhlakaza and former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Tšeliso Moerane, (who was then the PTC administrator) of victimising her for refusing to pay process payments for questionable orders for the supply of goods and services. Mr Mhlakaza has since retired from the police service.
Lance Sergeant Motseki said she and her co-worker, only identified as Makhetha, were arm-twisted into making payments for goods which were not delivered. She said that there were times when her superiors presented her with delivery notes even though the goods were not delivered.
“One of my tasks was to double-check the delivery of the supplied goods at the store before we processed payments,” Lance Sergeant Motseki said.
“Sometimes the delivery note would be produced even though the goods were not delivered. For example, there was once a delivery note for overalls for the goods which were not there. I notified Mme Makhetha that the goods had not been delivered even though there were delivery notes. She checked and found that the goods had not been delivered. We were nonetheless asked to process the payments for the overalls order,” Lance Sergeant Motseki said.
“She confronted Dr Morai (after being asked to process payments for the overalls for police recruits which were not delivered). She (Ms Makhetha) asked for a letter authorising the payment for the overalls which had not been delivered. The letter was written and it was signed by Commissioner Mhlakaza,” Lance Sergeant Motseki said, adding she was often called by her superiors to process payments for goods even when they had not yet been delivered.
“I would be called by my bosses who told me to process payments for undelivered goods because the police service sometimes has emergencies. I was told that Mme Makhetha trusted me and that she would not say anything if I told her that the ordered goods were delivered even though they were not. I said I would not do that (process payments for goods that had not been delivered).
“Normally I would be called to Mme Morai and Ntate Moerane’s offices. I was accused of being a defiant police officer and I was told that warranted a disciplinary hearing. A criminal case was even opened against me for revealing what they regarded as secret information. I then realised that corruption could be regarded as secret information in a police organisation.”
Lance Sergeant Motseki recalled how at one the PTC accounts office was ordered to pay for six oxen which had not been delivered. The oxen were supposed to be slaughtered to provide meat for the police recruits and for their pass out ceremony. She said she was victimised to refusing to process the payment.
She said she and her then co-workers, one senior accountant Ms Qacha and accountant Retšelisitsoe Kapa, were further surprised when a second delivery note for six more oxen was presented. She said there was no proof that those other oxen were indeed delivered and as a result she advised the two co-workers not to process their payments.
“There were no oxen in the kraal or (their carcasses) in the cold-room. I advised my co-workers not to process the payment for the other six oxen because we would be arrested. I was called into Ntate Moerane’s office and he said that they had heard that I was influencing ‘civilians’ (Ms Qacha and Ms Kapa) not to process payments. I told him I knew it was Mme Kapa who had told him that we would not pay for the undelivered goods. I also told him that as a police officer I would not let my co-workers get involved in a fraudulent practice (of processing the payments).”
She said she and Ms Qacha were later shocked to learn that the order for the six more oxen was processed and paid for. She believed that Ms Kapa or any other senior officer could have processed the payment.
Lance Sergeant Motseki said her refusal to get involved in the fraudulent practices even landed her in serious trouble with then police commissioner Mhlakaza.
“I was called to appear before the commissioner’s advisory board where we were ordered to pay for the undelivered goods. I was humiliated after the commissioner (Mhlakaza) got up from his chair and asked me to sit on it. He said I should sit on it because I was now the one running this organisation (police service) as I was doing as I pleased.
“The commissioner said that it was my intention to embarrass him because I was working with the ‘civilians’ (in the accounts office). I said we would not pay for the goods which were not delivered. Dr Morai who was present then said, ‘see, I told you that this police officer was rebellious,” Lance Sergeant Motseki told the PAC.
She said that Dr Morai subsequently had her irregularly transferred her from PTC to the Maseru Central Charge Office and thereafter to Lithoteng Police Station on the outskirts of Maseru. She added that Dr Morai continued to harass her even when they met in town until she obtained a court order against the transfer to Lithoteng Police Station.
Lance Sergeant Motseki said her transfer from the Maseru Central Charge office was also blocked by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mofokeng Kolo.
ACP Kolo confirmed Lance Sergeant Motseki’s allegations, saying that he (ACP Kolo) was made to suffer by being denied promotion for blocking the transfer.
Lance Sergeant Motseki said she was only allowed to return to the PTC after the appointment of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana as the police commissioner in 2015.
Dr Morai however, denied the allegations, saying Lance Sergeant Motseki’s claims were completely new to him.
“I do not remember anything about opening a case against Motseki. She was transferred from PTC. I would have to be reminded of the circumstances (of her transfer). I do not remember anything about her harassment and the claims that I told the commissioner’s advisory board that she is a disrespectful police officer are all new to me,” Dr Morai said.