Top cop in trouble over Facebook

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Keiso Mohloboli

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police ‘Masebina Ramone is in hot water for allegedly operating a Facebook account highly critical of the government, Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli.

Commissioner Letsoepa on Thursday wrote Ms Ramone a letter asking her to “show cause with seven days” why she should not be suspended pending disciplinary action for allegedly being behind the social network account bearing the name Paul Sithole. The account’s profile picture is a Chinese man standing in front of an LDF truck.

Ms Ramone heads the Inspectorate for Complaints and Discipline (ICD) and has been a member of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) for over 25 years.

Commissioner Letsoepa yesterday confirmed writing Ms Ramone the “show cause” letter but refused to say more on the matter.

“It is true that SACP Ramone was given a show cause letter on why she should not be suspended from duty but I can’t discuss details of the communication with the media. It is not appropriate for either the police authorities or officers to discuss confidential communiqué with the public but I can’t stop them if they decide to do so,” Commissioner Letsoepa said.

Asked if the “show cause” letter had something to do with Paul Sithole’s Facebook account as alleged by sources who spoke to the Sunday Express, Commissioner Letsoepa said he could not say more on the issue and referred this reporter to police spokesperson Clifford Molefe.

On his part, Senior Inspector Molefe confirmed the “show cause” letter was dated 17 March 2016, and was delivered to SACP Ramone the same day.

“SACP Ramone was given the letter to show cause why she can’t be suspended from duty pending an inquiry into the Facebook account. It is true that police intelligence established that she has been managing the account that has been actively spreading propaganda against the current government and the police authority.

“The police authority then found it unprofessional and unethical for a senior officer to be running such an account,” Snr Insp Molefe said yesterday.

Contacted for comment on Friday on the matter, SACP Ramone promised to get back to this reporter, saying she was in a meeting at the time. She never called as promised and repeated efforts by the Sunday Express to get in touch with her again proved fruitless.

After joining the LMPS as a constable, Ms Ramone rose through the ranks until she was promoted from Superintendent to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in 2014, and then SACP last year.

The Sunday Express is reliably informed that SACP Ramone last week queried a proposal to appoint a certain Superintendent (name withheld) to head the Special Operations Unit (SOU) during a Commissioner’s Advisory Board (CAB) meeting held at Police Headquarters.

According to the source, SACP Ramone told the meeting that the officer in question was not the right candidate for the job because he had never been a member of SOU and as a result, would not know how to head such a specialised unit.

The source indicated the officer was supposed to start heading the SOU on 1 April 2016 but a decision has not been made on the issue yet because of that argument.

The source said: “SOU officers have been refusing to go for joint-operations with the army saying they did not feel comfortable with the arrangement. They are saying because of what happened on 30 August 2014 when members of the LDF attacked Police Headquarters, Maseru Central Charge Office and Mabote Police Station where the SOU head office is, they cannot trust the soldiers anymore. The SOU members are saying the attack was unprovoked and one police officer was killed during the attack and no one has been charged about it. But the officer promised to deal with the issue and make the SOU members comply. However, SACP Ramone told the Board meeting that this officer would not succeed because SOU members were not going to listen to him because he was not one of them.

“I am not saying that is the reason why she is now in trouble but simply pointing out the coincidence of this argument and the show cause letter.”

Meanwhile, Paul Sithole’s Facebook account was still active yesterday. The last post, put at around 10am, read: “Please make me understand… in order to become a Local Government Commissioner, what are the requirements? I am asking this because I saw…has been appointed a commissioner and recently realised that ….has also been appointed.”

 

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