MOVEMENT for Economic Change (MEC) legislator Thabo Ramatla couldn’t have put it better when he asked if police ever investigate crimes against ordinary people if they cannot be bothered to probe offences committed against high profile people like him.
As we reported last week, Mr Ramatla was shot to within inches of his life by unknown gunmen who pulled up at his business premises in Mafeteng and repeatedly opened fire on 13 June 2020. Unlike so many others who have fallen by the gun, he is lucky to have escaped with his life. He was hospitalised with gunshot wounds to the head.
“I was shot in broad daylight between 9 and 10am,” a teary Mr Ramatla told fellow legislators including those from his own party. None of his fellow MPs had bothered to check on him when he was in hospital, he complained.
“A person of my status in Lesotho was shot and I am treated like a dog. I am hurting and this leaves me wondering what happens to ordinary people when us, their leaders, are treated this way,” he added.
This is the question most of us ordinary souls have been asking ourselves. Apart from the usual brutality against suspects who would have committed relatively minor crimes, what exactly do the police do? It appears they are not keen on investigating serious crimes like the shooting of citizens or even violence against women and children. Even in instances where the perpetrators are known, no arrests have been made in a lot of cases.
Mr Ramatla’s mysterious shooting is one of many such unsolved shootings which have plagued the nation in recent years. Last October, 69-year-old Nkopane Mokhesi and his four grandchildren were gunned down by unknown gunmen in Ha Molungoa, Maseru.
Before then in September 2019, well-known former policeman, Makoae Moshoeshoe, was also gunned down in cold blood by an unknown gunman, just to mention but a few.
The police almost always do nothing in these shootings even if affected families plead with them to investigate.
Following Mr Ramatla’s teary outburst in parliament last week, Police and Public Safety Minister ‘Mamoipone Senauoane revealed that she had asked Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli to expedite investigations into his near-fatal shooting.
“I have asked the police commissioner to personally handle the matter to expedite the investigations. I have also arranged a one on one meeting between Mr Ramatla and the commissioner,” Ms Senauoane said.
We certainly hope the minister is not expecting any glowing tributes for instructing Commissioner Molibeli to expedite the investigations or to meet with Mr Ramatla.
Investigating crimes is what the police chief and his subordinates should be doing all the time. They don’t need to be told to do their job. If the police chief has to be asked to probe the shooting of a high-profile victim, the logical deduction is that he and his juniors would not be bothered to investigate cases involving ordinary victims. In fact, that has been the reality in the past few years. The reality is that the police are very lax and unconcerned about the fate and welfare of ordinary people.
Instead of investigating and fostering public confidence in their professionalism, the police have turned into the scourge of the nation, inflicting untold suffering through wanton acts of brutality. Many serving police officers are simply uncaring. They are the scum of the earth.
Former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane raised the issue of police brutality and their shocking laxity when it comes to investigating crimes. He listed these as his reasons for seeking the ouster of Commissioner Molibeli in January 2020. Fortunately for the police chief and unfortunately for the long-suffering citizens all these issues raised by Mr Thabane were buried under the avalanche of his own alleged crimes. The then premier’s concerns were brushed aside as the rantings of a man who was desperately trying to cover up his own crimes by ousting the police chief to avoid being investigated for allegedly murdering his ex-wife, Lipolelo, on 14 June 2017.
It is possible that Mr Thabane only raised the issues against Commissioner Molibeli due to selfish considerations. However, the issues are valid nonetheless.
There is a serious need for a probe into the apparent laxity by the police in investigating serious crimes against ordinary citizens.
The nation needs answers. More than that, it needs assurances that this country will once again be a safe place in which to live. That Lesotho will become a country where the sanctity of life is respected. That whenever crimes are committed, the police will definitely investigate and arrest the culprits. That when such culprits are arrested, the judiciary will play its part by swiftly trying the cases and meting out justice.
No serious investor would want to come to a Hobbesian state reminiscent of the dark ages where life was nasty, brutish and short due to criminals who kill without fear of arrest and prosecution.
Once again, we appeal to Commissioner Molibeli and his officers to execute their mandate. They have let this country down. The current Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is the worst that this country has ever had. We also appeal to the judiciary to play its part. Deterrent sentences are one way of discouraging criminals, assuming they reach the courts in the first place. Finally, we urge the relevant authorities to probe the LMPS to establish why they are seemingly unwilling to act against criminals. It might be that the police themselves – and there is enough evidence to sustain this argument – are the worst criminals themselves. Basotho have suffered enough. We certainly cannot go on like this!!!