MASERU — Maseru Central Police commander Sets’ohe Sakoane has allegedly blocked an investigation into allegations that the honorary consul of Denmark in Lesotho, Kuena Phafane, broke into the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)’s offices in the city.
Phafane, who is also the president of the LCCI, is alleged to have forced his entry into the LCCI offices in Maseru West last month.
He is alleged to have broken the doors and changed the locks.
Phafane is locked in a fierce leadership battle for control of the chamber.
It is alleged that after a fall-out with other members of the leadership, especially executive secretary Lebeko Notsi who runs the office, Phafane locked the offices and barred everyone from getting in.
A few days later, it is alleged, Phafane then went to the offices, broke the doors and changed the locks.
He is also alleged to have put a padlock on the gate.
The association reported the matter to the police and a docket was opened, sources close to the issue told the Sunday Express last week.
The sources however said an investigation into the allegation of burglary was proceeding well until Phafane allegedly approached Senior Superintendent Sakoane for intervention.
The source said Phafane visited Sakoane on Thursday.
After the meeting, a police source said, Sakoane then told police officers dealing with the case that this was a civil case and the police had no business investigating the case.
The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity and was not part of the case’s investigating team, said Phafane was supposed to give the police his written statement on Thursday but instead he went straight to Sakoane’s office.
“I am convinced that Phafane could be pinned on the burglary charge,” said a police officer.
The source said he believed this was a criminal and not a civil case as Sakoane had told the investigating team.
Sakoane confirmed to the Sunday Express that investigations against Phafane had stopped but said there was nothing sinister about the move.
He said he had “discontinued the probe after realising that there was no criminal case against Phafane”.
“It was in the first place wrong to bring the case to the police because it was a civil matter which ought to have been dealt with civilly,” Sakoane said.
“We had no reason to investigate (the alleged) crime against Mr Phafane in a matter that should have been dealt with in a civil court.”
Notsi confirmed that the LCCI had lodged a case with the Maseru central police but he was not sure whether Phafane had been quizzed as one of the suspects.
“We took our case to the police for investigations but I cannot say with certainty that they would call Mr Phafane for questioning as one of the suspects,” Notsi said.
“But there were enough reasons to suspect that he had a hand in the burglary either directly or indirectly.”
Notsi said he had been at loggerheads with Phafane for a long time after he reported “the president’s wrongdoings to the management committee”.
He said a day before the “burglary” the LCCI’s national executive committee was planning to take corrective measures against Phafane.
“The secretariat, which is led by me, was supposed to facilitate further steps by the NEC (against Phafane) but that was thwarted because in the morning when we came to work we were prevented from entering the office by the guards,” Notsi said.
“We also learnt that Mr Phafane was responsible for the deployment of the guards at the office.”
Notsi however is adamant that Phafane could be involved “directly or indirectly in the burglary”.
He said Phafane was aware that the executive committee was investigating him over a company he had allegedly registered in the name of the LCCI but is privately owned by him and two others.
“I reported to both the management committee and the executive committee that he registered a private company called LCCI Investment Holdings,” he said.
“Members, especially from the Maseru chamber, have been asking me if I knew anything about this company but I told everybody that I knew nothing about it.
“I was pestered with questions until I went to the Law Office where I realised that indeed such a company existed and our president was one of its three directors.
“The Law Office could not allow me to take the particulars (of the company) on the grounds that it was a private company and they could not assist me without the consent of its directors,” Notsi said.
Notsi also said Phafane’s takeover of the offices had stopped the secretariat from holding executive committee elections which were scheduled for today and tomorrow.
Phafane declined to comment saying: “I’m not in a position to talk about the LCCI to the press because the matter is still being discussed by members.
“I can’t even talk about myself separately from the LCCI because I am inseparable from it.
“I’m sorry, I will give you an interview when conditions allow in the future.”