LESOTHO Mounted Police Services (LMPS) officers have begun a month-long forensic training course at the Police Training Centre in Maseru under the supervision of the Southern Africa Development Community Prevention Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL).
The opening ceremony on Monday was attended by the Deputy Commissioner of SAPMIL Police Component, Joseph Shikongo, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Keketso Monaheng and other high ranking LMPS officers.
DCP Monaheng said the Forensic Training Course was in line with the regional bloc’s quest to reform the LMPS and help Lesotho to achieve lasting peace and stability.
The SAPMIL also known as the SADC Standby Force was deployed to Lesotho on 2 December 2017. The standby force is made of 217 soldiers, 15 intelligence personnel, 24 police officers and 13 civilian experts.
A confidential SADC report that was prepared ahead of the deployment of the SADC force and seen by this publication, stated that the latter had a mandate of “creating a sufficiently secure, stable and peaceful environment conducive for the rule of law necessary for the implementation of the security sector reforms and the recommendations of the SADC”.
The report also stressed the need for the LMPS to be re-trained in some areas to ensure that it becomes a more efficient and professional force.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on Monday, DCP Monaheng, hailed the SAPMIL intervention for helping restore peace and stability to Lesotho and said the SADC-organised course came at the right time when the country was faced with challenges of investigating several murder cases that have attracted local and international attention.
Some of the murders that were perpetrated by soldiers in recent years include the 2014 killing of Police Sub Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko and the 2015 and 2017 assassinations of army commanders, Lieutenant Generals Maaparankoe Mahao and Khoantle Motšomotšo respectively.
DCP Monaheng said the course would help improve the investigative capacities of the LMPS and they would also apply their new-found skills to investigating robberies, sexual offences, house-breaking, cybercrimes and scenes of explosions.
“The course will enable the participants to accurately determine the facts of a particular case and present as much evidence as possible to the courts of law,” DCP Monaheng said.
For his part, Mr Shikongo, called on the participants to take the training seriously as the knowledge gained would improve the overall performance of the LMPS.
He said the course was tailored to address the immediate training needs that were identified in the course of interactions between the LMPS and SAPMIL police since the latter’s deployment to Lesotho.
“We noted that the investigations of most of the high profile cases were not finalised in reasonable time either due to lack of forensic equipment or requisite skills to tackle those cases,” he said.
He also said that SAPMIL had a mandate to ensure the amendment of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Act of 1996 and the LMPS Act of 1998 to ensure the separation of powers between the two security institutions to avoid overlapping mandates which could give rise to conflicts.
He said the amendments should result in the LMPS assuming full responsibility for the maintenance of law and order, adding that they must do so independently, “without fear or favour and irrespective of political affiliation, creed or religion”.–SAPMIL