Police officer faces dismissal over ABC links

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Pascalinah Kabi

IT never rains but pours for Police Constable (PC) Chechela Vincent Khemisi.

Not only is he facing dismissal for declaring his affiliation to the main ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC), he must now fight his legal battles on his own. This after the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Staff Association (LEPOSA) indicated its intention to withdraw its undertaking to pay his legal fees.

LEPOSA says it cannot support an officer who allegedly violates police regulations by dabbling in politics. It says it had “erroneously” agreed to foot his bills in the first place.

PC Khemisi’s troubles began early last year when he attended a funeral of a member of the Alliance of Democrats (AD) which was then in government as the ABC’s coalition partner. The funeral was in Teyateyaneng

The AD is now in opposition after it was not included in the current ABC-led coalition which replaced the previous Thomas Thabane-led government on 20 May 2020.

At the funeral, PC Khemisi is said to have taken to the podium and claimed to pass condolences on behalf of the ABC.

This did not sit well with ABC officials in the district who subsequently lodged a complaint with the police authorities.

He was later charged with misconduct for allegedly violating the Police Act which prohibits officers from active political involvement. He was asked to “show cause” why he should not be dismissed from the police service over his alleged misconduct.

He subsequently challenged the move to dismiss him in court. He was initially supported by LEPOSA which undertook to pay his legal fees.

However, LEPOSA now says it “erroneously” made the undertaking and now wants PC Khemisi to “show cause” why the police union must not refrain from paying his legal fees.

“LEPOSA, as an association founded under section 66 of Police Act, is outlawed from affiliating to any trade union or a political party, and so are its members,” LEPOSA secretary general, Inspector Moraleli Motloli, states in his 18 August 2021 “show cause” letter to PC Khemisi.

“The same political ban is codified in the LEPOSA constitution which says the association shall remain apolitical. It is on the basis of the foregoing that the association invites you to make a representation why the legal services you were granted without following due process cannot be withdrawn on account of the following grounds;

“Your alleged misconduct is the very antithesis of police and association’s stand. It is alleged that during your eulogy address you reiterated political slogans of 4×4 (previous four-party governing) coalition parties. Your conduct was outside the scope of duty, hence on the frolic of your own. (sic).

“Also show cause why the association may not recover all legal expenses so far incurred, from you, after erroneously assisting you. Your reply should be within two days of receipt of this correspondence,” Inspector Motloli states.

This is not the first time that PC Khemisi has been embroiled in controversy over his political affiliations.

He was among 21 officers who were dismissed in April 2017 by then then Police Commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa. This after they were found guilty of misconduct for allegedly participating in political activities in contravention of police regulations.

A 10 January 2017 “show cause” letter issued to PC Khemisi and others stated, “You will recall that, on or about the 8th January 2017 at around 1200hrs or immediately thereafter at or near Peka, you deliberately left your policing area and took part in political party meeting, procession, concourse, picketing and or rally meeting held by the All Basotho Convention (ABC). It appears that, you were not on duty and or assigned any duty thereat.”

They were subsequently fired in April that year despite receiving the support of LEPOSA. This was during the tenure of the then Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition.

They were later reinstated in July 2017 by then Acting Police Commissioner Keketso Monaheng. This a month after the advent of the previous Thabane-led four party coalition. The coalition comprised of Mr Thabane’s ABC, the AD, the Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.

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