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Lawyer dumps ACP Mapola

Mohalenyane Phakela

 ASSISTANT Commissioner of Police (ACP), Motlatsi Mapola, has been dumped by his lawyer, Tlohang Mohanoe, over undisclosed disagreements.

This has resulted in the postponement of his High Court application to stop Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli from firing him from the force. The matter was supposed to be heard on Thursday by Justice Molefi Makara but it failed to proceed after Advocate Mohanoe told the court that he was withdrawing his legal services after he and ACP Mapola failed to agree on certain issues.

A new hearing date will be set as soon as ACP Mapola informs the court whether he has found a new lawyer or will represent himself.

Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Mapola have been locked in a legal battle since January this year when Commissioner Molibeli moved to get rid of ACP Mapola who reacted by petitioning the High Court to stop his boss.

Even though the matter was pending in court, Commissioner Molibeli in March sent ACP Mapola on forced leave pending his retirement which is only due on 8 March 2023.

This only aggravated the two’s fight and in May this year, Justice Makara ordered them to hold talks aimed at resolving the issue out of court.

Since ACP Mapola was already on forced leave pending his retirement, there would be no need to hear his application to stop his dismissal if the two could agree on how to best handle the issue, Justice Makara had said.

Just Makara had promised to endorse their out of court settlement as an order of court if they had reached it.

But the two top cops failed to reach a settlement prompting the case to be set down for hearing by Justice Makara.

The matter failed to proceed on Thursday after ACP Mapola was dumped by his lawyer. Justice Makara’s clerk, Advocate Eric Ramalefane, said a new hearing date would be set down when ACP Mapola has informed the court of the way forward.

“His (Mapola’s) lawyer withdrew his services after the two had failed to agree on certain issues and therefore the matter could not proceed. Either Mr Mapola will represent himself, find another lawyer or withdraw the matter. He will communicate with the Commissioner (Molibeli)’s legal team to map the way forward. Thereafter, the court will decide on when the matter will be heard (if at all),” Adv Ramalefane said.

In his court papers, ACP Mapola, the former head of complaints and discipline in the police force, alleges that Commissioner Molibeli wants to fire him to prevent him from finalising investigations against the police boss for allegedly defeating the ends of justice.

Commissioner Molibeli allegedly defeated the ends of justice by shielding former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane from investigation and arrest for allegedly assaulting one Thesele Matela sometime in 2017.

In January 2021, ACP Mapola obtained an interim court order barring Commissioner Molibeli from hauling him before a disciplinary hearing until the finalisation of his application for a final order compelling the police chief to return the docket that the police had opened against Ms Thabane for allegedly assaulting Mr Matela.

ACP Mapola also wants Commissioner Molibeli to be barred from interfering with the assault investigations.

Commissioner Molibeli, former Police and Public Safety Minister, ‘Mamoipone Senauoane, and the Attorney General are the first to third respondents respectively in ACP Mapola’s application.

Ms Thabane allegedly assaulted Mr Matela at State House in 2017. This after the latter had mistakenly called her husband, then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, on his mobile phone. It is alleged that Mr Matela was summoned to State House by Ms Thabane who later joined forces with her friends to assault him.

He later reported the alleged assault and a case was opened at the Thamae Police Station in Maseru. However, while the matter was still being investigated, ACP Mapola alleges that Commissioner Molibeli, through his subordinate, Deputy Commissioner Beleme Lebajoa, demanded the docket from Thamae Police Station and ordered the closure of the case thus defeating the ends of justice to protect Ms Thabane.

ACP Mapola also argues that the disciplinary action is aimed at getting him dismissed from the force to clear the way for Commissioner Molibeli to bury the Matela assault case for good.

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