Fired cop challenges dismissal
THE High Court will tomorrow hear a case in which a fired police constable seeks to overturn his dismissal for posting a picture on Facebook wearing All Basotho Convention (ABC) regalia.
Lebohang Motlatsi, who denies being an ABC supporter, filed an urgent application before the High Court last Wednesday in a bid to overturn his sacking by Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa.
Mr Motlatsi made the urgent application as a group of other Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) members also face dismissal for allegedly attending an ABC rally on 8 January this year.
Numbering up to 11, the officers were issued with letters on 10 January requesting them to “show cause” why they should not be dismissed for allegedly participating in political activities in contravention of police regulations. The affected LMPS members told the Sunday Express’ sister paper Lesotho Times they were seeking legal advice on the matter.
Mr Motlatsi was dismissed for wearing ABC regalia on a picture he posted on Facebook. In his defence, Mr Motlatsi argued the picture had been photoshopped and that he was not called by the District Commissioner Maseru Urban to state his case subsequent to being issued a “show cause” letter.
However, Mr Motlatsi was eventually fired for indiscipline. A letter of dismissal dated 6 January 2017 and penned by LMPS Human Resources Officer Senior Inspector P Letompa, dismissed Mr Motlatsi’s assertion that he never put on ABC regalia and that the picture was photoshopped.
“Firstly, your argument that you never put on an All Basotho Convention regalia holds no water because you have not provided proof to the contrary to the picture uploaded to your Facebook account,” he said.
“Secondly, you barely allege that the picture was photoshopped but you have not provided proof to that effect and therefore COMPOL is not convinced otherwise.
“Thirdly, it is surprising that you wanted District Commissioner Maseru Urban to seek explanation from you instead of writing a letter of representation and yet you are not currently answerable to District Commissioner Maseru Urban but to District Commissioner Leribe.”
SIP Letompa also pointed out that PC Motlatsi violated provisions of the Police Service Act and its regulations, adding the law empowered Commissioner Letsoepa to dismiss an officer who is a member of a political party.
However, in his urgent application, Mr Motlatsi seeks to have his dismissal “declared as unlawful and arbitrary”.
Mr Motlatsi, who is represented by Advocate Rasenkisi Matamane, also seeks back pay from the date of the “unfair dismissal to the date of reinstatement”.
Commissioner Letsoepa, Police Minister Phallang Monare and Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe are cited as first to third respondents respectively in the case.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Motlatsi argues that he was never called for a disciplinary hearing prior to being fired. He also contends that there was no proof he was a member of the ABC.
“What is only being alleged is that I decided to pronounce or portray myself as a member of ABC by uploading on my Facebook account a picture whereby I was putting on ABC regalia,” he says.
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