Police union seeks answers over army raid

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Army-boots-001’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE newly-elected Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) has set out to establish the circumstances surrounding a Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) raid on three key Maseru police stations on 30 August 2014.

The raid, which left Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko dead at Police Headquarters, was described by then premier Thomas Thabane as an abortive attempt to overthrow his government.

The LDF also raided Maseru Central Police Station and Mabote Police Station on the same day, and described the manoeuvres as a special operation to foil a police plan to give civilians firearms for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy street protest scheduled for 1 September 2014. However, the LMPS vehemently denied the allegation.

According to LEPOSA Secretary-General Moraleli Motloli the circumstances surrounding the raid were among the union’s priorities. He said the association, which was elected during an Annual General Meeting (AGM) held last weekend, wanted closure on the issue to ensure good working relations between the agencies.

“As you are aware, we are undergoing security sector reforms. Some of the reforms include harmonization of the agencies with joint operations already initiated by police and army officers,” said Inspector Motloli in an interview.

“We need a clear and detailed report on what really transpired on 30 August when police stations were raided and Ramohloko was eventually killed.”

He said sweeping the issue under the carpet would not bring it to an end since the army and police needed to work together. The two agencies held a joint stop-and-search operation in February this year in response to a spate of famo music-related shootings.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili also recently commissioned a joint task team, comprising of LDF and LMPS members to probe the circumstances surrounding the killing of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao.

The former army chief was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by soldiers who had come to arrest him following accusations of mutiny. However, the Mahao family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

“We need to know our exact point of departure in order to work harmoniously with the army in the joint operations,” Inspector Motloli said.

“It should be very clear that we as LEPOSA are not at all against these operations but we need to know how and where to start when working with the army because we can’t wish what happened on that day away.”

He said the association wanted to see justice served on Sub-Inspector Ramahloko’s killers.

“We would like to see all those who took part in the killing of Sub-Inspector Ramahloko and the raid on police stations being brought before the courts of law and justice being done. We will not back down on this issue,” said Inspector Motloli.

He said the issue of missing Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng was also raised at the LEPOSA AGM. PC Khetheng’s father, Thabo Khetheng, is seeking a High Court order to compel the LMPS to produce his son dead or alive.

According to Mr Khetheng’s court application filed on 18 July 2016, PC Mokalekale Khetheng was last seen when he was arrested by colleagues in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March this year.

Mr Khetheng claims his son was arrested on suspicion of arson after the government house allocated to the Officer Commanding Mokhotlong police station got “caught fire”.

When quizzed about PC Khetheng’s issue during the AGM, Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa said the missing cop was not a member of LEPOSA and he could not comment on the matter as it was before the courts of law.

However, Inspector Motloli told this paper that while PC Khetheng was not a member of LEPOSA, his plight remained their priority.

“Even if he is not a member of LEPOSA, that does not make it right that he is missing and up to now we don’t know where he is. If we choose to overlook Khetheng’s disappearance, who knows who will disappear next?” he said.

“So whether he is a member of LEPOSA or not, we have an obligation to protect all police officers.”

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