DPP goes after Molibeli
- resolves to charge police boss over handling of ‘Maesaiah case
THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, has resolved to charge the Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli, and his assistant Beleme Lebajoa, with abuse of office over their handling of a case involving controversial former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane.
But Compol Molibeli is said to be stalling the case himself after the case file was referred back to the police for “tightening of loose ends” before the matter proceeds to court.
The file containing Adv Motinyane’s decision to charge Compol Molibeli, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Lebajoa and former first lady ‘Maesaiah was, according to authoritative sources, hand-delivered to the commissioner’s office on 11 August 2020.
This after ACP Motlatsi Mapola had asked the DPP to prosecute Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Lebajoa for abuse of office for allegedly protecting Mrs Thabane from prosecution for allegedly assaulting a Maseru man at State House in January 2019.
In a sign of the continuing turmoil with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), ACP Mapola filed his request against his boss at the office of the DPP on 17 July 2020.
Mrs Thabane is accused of assaulting one Thesele Matela at State House on 2 January 2019. This after Mr Matela had accidentally phoned former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to the annoyance of his wife.
Mr Matela is alleged to have been later “kidnapped” by the police and taken to State House in the boot of a car. He then received a thorough beating at the hands of Mrs Thabane and her friends. He was allegedly left bloodied and bruised after the assault.
ACP Mapola had since recommended the prosecution of Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Lebajoa for allegedly defeating the ends of justice by protecting ‘Maesaiah after Mr Matela had filed assault charges.
“The following people have to be charged: ACP Lebajoa and his team; Liabiloe ‘Maesaiah Thabane and Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, with defeating the course of justice,” ACP Mapola said in his submission to Adv Motinyane.
“He (Compol Molibeli) ought to have protected the victim… Instead he protected the former First Lady from humiliation and acted unreasonably.
“He also failed to take legal action against his officers for taking instructions from the First Lady to take the victim by force and present him to the State House for a beating. This was dereliction of duty constituting (sic) defeating the ends of justice. But when the odds were against him (Compol Molibeli), he was able to stand against the First Lady and charged her with murder,” said ACP Mapola in reference to widespread allegations that Compol Molibeli only decided to charge ‘Maesaiah with the June 2017 murder of Lipolelo, her husband’s ex-wife, only after his position was under threat and the former first family was about to dismiss him.
Highly placed sources told this publication Adv Motinyane had responded positively to ACP Mapola’s request to charge Compol Molibeli and his assistant.
“The DPP has responded favourably to the request to charge Compol Molibeli, ACP Lebajoa and Mrs Thabane. A file was hand-delivered by Adv Motinyane’s driver on 11 August 2020,” a highly placed source told the Sunday Express.
The source said Adv Motinyane gave the file to Compol Molibeli for him to pass it onto ACP Mapola to tie up loose ends before proceeding to court.
“Adv Motinyane wanted Compol Molibeli to pass the file onto ACP Mapola for him and his team to wrap up a few things to enable her to officially charge the Commissioner, ACP Lebajoa and Ms Thabane,” said the source.
However, Commissioner Molibeli is allegedly refusing to handover the file to ACP Mapola and his team.
“Compol Molibeli is refusing to hand over the file to ACP Mapola and his team. He is not even coming up with excuses to justify himself… He is simply sitting on the file. He is plainly refusing to give the file to ACP Mapola,” another source said.
In terms of protocol, Adv Motinyane gives back all case files needing further investigations or for arrests to the police, once she has made her decision on the files, via the commissioner’s office.
“She cannot deal with individual police officers. She relays all her work via the commissioner’s office. In this case, the commissioner is an interested party and it seems he has decided to thwart his own case by simply sitting on the file. It is not clear what happens next. We are in the midst of a crisis….,” said a highly placed source.
Efforts to obtain comment from both Adv Motinyane and Compol Molibeli failed as they did not answer their phones nor return WhatsApp messages.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said he was not aware of the matter and asked for time to make inquiries.
“What are the allegations? Ao banna, am not aware of such a situation. Allow me to make inquiries and respond later… You can call me back later,” Supt Mopeli said.
Repeated efforts to call him back were unsuccessful as his phone rang unanswered.
But the issue is yet another indication of the turmoil in the police force and what seemingly appears to be a war of attrition between the police and the DPP’s office.
The DPP has already charged another of Compol Molibeli’s key allies, Deputy Police Commissioner Paseka Mokete with sexual assault. The turf war between the two critical crime busting departments is seen retarding any efforts to fight sky high crime rates in Lesotho. Crime is ever escalating in Lesotho with the country now ranking among the top murder destinations in the world. However, conviction rates for crime are almost zero.
Observers say there is no hope for crime ever getting contained when key state institutions, that should be cooperating in fighting crime, are ever at loggerheads.
“Prime Minister Majoro might have to start afresh and appoint new people to these offices if ever there is to be headway in fighting crime,” a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity said. “How do they sit to discuss and agree on prosecuting any case when they are busy fighting each other.”
It seems the turf war between the police and the DPP’s office is the reason why ex-premier Thomas Thabane has not been charged with the Lipolelo murder despite earlier indications that he would be.
Meanwhile, Compol Molibeli has begun processes of dismissing Lesotho Mounted Police Service Staff Association (LEPOSA) spokesperson, Police Constable Motlatsi Mofokeng, from the force.
PC Mofokeng stands accused of inciting “rebellion” against Commissioner Molibeli on 14 August this year. He was slapped with a letter of representation five days later.
PC Mofoka is the third LEPOSA leader that Compol Molibeli is going after. He has successfully fired LEPOSA national treasurer ‘Mathebe Motseki from the police service. Processes are also underway to dismiss LEPOSA secretary general Inspector Moraleli Motloli from the police service.
Part of the letter to PC Mofokeng reads: “You will recall, that on or around 14 August 2020 at around 5:21am, masquerading as Mofoka, using your cellphone number you made and posted a voice note/recording in the LEPOSA WhatsApp group named LEPOSA wherein you were inciting rebellion by members of the same group… against the Commissioner of Police for dismissing a police officer, namely Lance Sergeant Mathebe Motseki.
“You will further recall that in the aforesaid group, you stated that, in support of the saying that ‘…an injury to one is an injury to all…’ … that members should jointly with you write a letter to Compol Molibeli ‘demanding’ him to reinstate Lance Sergeant Mathebe Motseki within 14 days of the receipt of that letter, failing which Compol Molibeli should either dismiss you all or you all die or fall where Lance Sergeant Mathebe Motseki fell or died,” police human resource officer Supt Marou wrote.
Supt Marou said these remarks amounted to inciting rebellion against Commissioner Molibeli.
“You will not deny that your voice clip or voice recording had the effect of influencing and/or inciting the members of that group to rebel against the high command of the LMPS. You will finally not deny that your rebellious intentions were manifested by buy-in (sic) of other police officers such as Mpheto and Lekhehle who also bought your idea and had shown support by commenting accordingly.
“On the basis of the foregoing, I have been instructed by the Commissioner of Police to demand from you, as I hereby do, reasons why the provisions of Section 31 (1) (i) of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Act of 1998 may not be invoked against you.
“Your written response is expected to reach this office within four days upon receipt of this letter. Failure to give your response within stipulated time will be considered that you have waived your right to make required representation,” Supt Marou said.