Army finally returns police guns
THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, on Thursday, returned guns and ammunition which were confiscated from the police during the army’s attacks on three police stations including the police headquarters in Maseru on 30 August 2014.
Speaking at the handover ceremony at Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, Lt-Gen Letsoela said the return of the weapons was an important step in the restoration of peace and stability that was shattered when the army invaded the police posts and confiscated the weapons.
Last month, Lt-Gen Letsoela condemned as an “illegal operation’’ the August 30, 2014 attempted coup on the first government of Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, which saw the LDF raiding and seizing arms from several police stations.
On that particular day, the army raided three police stations just a day after Dr Thabane had fired the now retired army commander, Lieutenant General, Tlali Kamoli and replaced him with Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao who was later killed in June 2015 by his colleagues after the collapse of Dr Thabane’s government.
The raids also lead to the death of Police Sub-Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko.
The LDF later described the manoeuvres as a special operation to foil a police plan to give civilians firearms to cause anarchy during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) street protest scheduled for 1 September 2014 — a claim the LMPS and Dr Thabane have dismissed.
Lt-Gen Kamoli has since been charged with one count of murder over the fatal shooting of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko.
And on Thursday, Lt-Gen Letsoela said he would ensure that that there would never be a repeat of the 2014 incidents.
Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, who received the weapons on behalf of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), welcomed the army gesture, saying this symbolised a new era of peace and good working relations between the two security agencies.
“We are delighted to be part of efforts to rebuild the peace and this is a start of good working relations.
“It is not just for us but for all Basotho and Lesotho to work together therefore I call upon the officers to join in this noble gesture of restoring peace,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Police, Khothatso Tšooana, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Tanki Mothae, and other senior army and police officers attended the ceremony.
Mr Mothae said they had returned all the weapons that were seized in 2014 and said they were all in good condition.