Members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service who were providing Police Ministry Principal Secretary (PS) Refiloe Matekane and Government Secretary (GS) Moahloli Mphaka with security were withdrawn on Tuesday this week, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Mr Matekane was granted the security soon after the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) simultaneously attacked Police Headquarters, Maseru Central Charge Office and Mabote Police Station on 30 August 2014, in what then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane described as an attempted coup.
On the other hand, Mr Mphaka had been provided the LMPS guard before the attacks, allegedly after police intelligence had established his life was in danger.
Both Mr Matekane and Mr Mphaka were receiving the protection around-the-clock, and no other PS was being provided this kind of security.
Mr Mphaka yesterday confirmed the removal of the police details, but said he could not comment further due to the “sensitive nature” of the issue.
“I don’t want to go into details about this but what I can only tell you is that I was informed by the Police Minister (Monyane Moleleki) that the police security I had, would be taken from me beginning yesterday. I had been given a police bodyguard during the day and two guards at my residence at night,” Mr Mphaka said.
Asked if he believed he no longer needed the security, Mr Mphaka insisted that he did not want to talk about the issue and terminated the call.
The Lesotho Times made several efforts to get in touch with Mr Matekane to no avail.
However, LMPS spokesperson, Clifford Molefe confirmed the removal of the police security from both Mr Matekane and Mr Mphaka.
According to Senior Inspector Molefe, the decision to remove the guards was taken by Acting Commissioner of Police Keketso Monaheng who found it “unnecessary” to continue providing Mr Matekane and Mr Mphaka with the security. Senior Inspector Molefe said the Acting Commissioner had concluded that “conditions which resulted in the deployment of the security are back to normal”, hence the officers’ removal.
“Anyway, Acting Commissioner Monaheng spoke to both Mr Matekane and Mr Mphaka about the issue and informed them they should not hesitate to contact him should they feel their lives are in danger and they need to be protected,” Senior Inspector Molefe said.
Meanwhile, the removal of Mr Matekane and Mr Mphaka’s police security comes just over a month since government withdrew the LMPS security Dr Thabane had requested as part of his retirement benefits.
Dr Thabane, who lost the premiership to Democratic Congress leader Pakalitha Mosisili in the 28 February 2015 snap elections, had requested the police—and not the LDF as prescribed by the constitution—to provide him with security in line with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses’ Benefits) Act 2011.
Under the Act, Dr Thabane was, among others, entitled to a government vehicle, driver, diplomatic passport, free medical aid and bodyguards from the LDF.
However, the All Basotho Convention leader had asked government to give him police security and not the army after falling out with some LDF top brass during his two-and-a-half-year tenure as premier as well as Defence, National Security and Police Minister.
Dr Thabane had told the Lesotho Times the other reason he preferred LMPS to LDF protection was because he was now an “ordinary villager” who did not require such “tight” security.
After initially agreeing to the request, government had later made a U-turn and withdrawn the LMPS members. Ironically, it was Mr Mphaka who wrote the letter dated 26 March 2015, withdrawing Dr Thabane’s LMPS security.
The letter, addressed to Mr Matekane and Defence PS Thato Mohasoa and headlined ‘Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses’ Benefits) Act, 2011’ reads: “Please refer to my savingram dated 23 March 2015 in response to former Prime Minister Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane on the above subject matter.
“I have accordingly consulted with the Right Honourable Prime Minister as Minister for both agencies (Police and Defence) on this issue. The decision and directive of the Right Honourable Prime Minister is that the police be removed from this service and the Lesotho Defence Force should take over the protection of the former Prime Minister.
“You are therefore requested to facilitate the handing over. Please treat this as a matter of urgency. Your usual cooperation is highly appreciated.”
However, Dr Thabane rejected the LDF guards and remains without official security to this day.