POLICE and Public Safety Minister, Monyane Moleleki, has urged “all women in blue” to keep working hard, adding they were “champions in leadership” in society.
Mr Moleleki said this during the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Women’s Network appreciation awards ceremony held in Maseru on Friday. During the ceremony, 25 female police officers from across the country were awarded prizes for outstanding leadership and cleanliness among other virtues.
The event was attended by prominent women such as musician Puseletso Seema, gender activist Rebecca Makhalemele, South African senior police officer Colonel Zonke and Agriculture and Food Security Deputy Minister ’Mamosa Molapo among others.
Mr Moleleki said many women in the LMPS held senior ranks compared to the sister agency Lesotho Defence Force.
“We, as the LMPS, are champions. If my memory serves me well, the highest rank any female military officer has ever attained has been that of colonel,” said the minister.
“I am not aware if ever there has been a female brigadier in the army. The rank of brigadier is equal to that of a senior assistant commissioner in the police.
“We, on the other hand, had female senior assistant commissioners, an acting deputy commissioner and commissioner of police (’Malejaka Letooane who was appointed police commissioner in 2005 and retired in 2011). We have beaten the army hands down in that regard.”
Mr Moleleki also stated Lesotho was one of the first countries in Africa to appoint a female police commissioner.
“We were then followed by Malawi and others. But we are number one. Actually, Lesotho is the champion when it comes to women’s issues.”
He said Lesotho won the 2016 African Gender Award along with 29 other countries at the 27th African Union Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda last month. The award recognised Lesotho as one of the continent’s top performers in the advancement of the economic and social rights of women.
“For instance, the Police and Public Safety Principal Secretary (’Mapalesa Rapapa) is female; Government Secretary (Lebohang Ramohlanka) is female; the Chief Justice (Nthomeng Majara) is female; the National Assembly Speaker (Ntlhoi Motsamai) is female. The list is endless,” said Mr Moleleki.
In his remarks, Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa lauded women in the LMPS, saying: “I know your strength. You don’t only support orphanages, but vulnerable people in general from your personal funds. I want to assure you minister (Mr Moleleki) these women do really commit themselves to the needy. I am a witness to what they have done.
“Not only that, but these female police officers also conduct successful operations where they not only apprehend women suspected of committing crimes, but males as well.”
Commissioner Letsoepa added: “They are able to execute their police duties the same way their male counterparts do. They are able to work in every police post you can think of in the country.
“My appeal to the minister is that, this time around as new recruits are being employed, please employ a minimum of 110 females (in a total of around 250 police recruits). As the police management, we have undertaken to equate females with males in all our police ranks. In other words, in any police station and post there are two senior police officers, the next one will be a female. We have undertaken to put that into practice as soon as possible.”
For her part, LMPS Women’s Network leader, acting Senior Assistant Commissioner ’Matšepo Soko indicated the organisation was established in 2007 to empower women within the police service.
She said their theme this year was to condemn early marriages within societies.
Snr Asst Comm Soko also revealed the number of women in the LMPS had increased from 404 in 2007 to 836. The LMPS has over 4 000 police officers in total.