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Majoro speaks on police tensions


Pascalinah Kabi

PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro says the problems bedeviling the police force are much deeper than the ongoing fierce infighting between Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli and his subordinates as they are long-standing and also include the politicisation of the force.

As such, Dr Majoro said, the problems would not be resolved overnight “by removing one person”.

He said this in an interview with a local radio station yesterday. He was speaking in the aftermath of Law and Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao telling the Lesotho Times on Wednesday that an inter-ministerial committee tasked with probing the instability in the police force had completed its work.

Dr Majoro set up the committee on 6 August 2020 and it began its work four days later by summoning Commissioner Molibeli to give evidence on the year-long infighting which has resulted in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Staff Association (LEPOSA) petitioning Dr Majoro to fire him.

The combative police union accuses the police boss of bias and incompetence in handling their grievances.

It alleges that since taking charge in August 2017, Commissioner Molibeli has displayed naked bias by unprocedurally promoting his close allies like Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Paseka Mokete and Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Beleme Lebajoa.

LEPOSA also accuses the police boss of failing to address allegations of rampant police brutality and it has even threatened an unprecedented protest march on the 18th of September to force Dr Majoro to fire him.

Apart from petitioning Dr Majoro to act against him, some LEPOSA members have also filed court applications seeking the nullifications of the promotions he has made.

Even some members of the police command like ACP Sera Makharilele and ACP Motlatsi Mapola are not happy with Commissioner Molibeli’s leadership.

The latter has even asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane to prosecute Commissioner Molibeli and ACP Lebajoa for abuse of office. This after they allegedly protected former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane from prosecution for allegedly assaulting a Maseru man at the state house in January 2019.

Commissioner Molibeli has fought back by dismissing senior LEPOSA officials like Lance Sergeant ‘Mathebe Motseki on 10 August 2020.

LEPOSA secretary general Inspector Moraleli Motloli and the police union’s spokesperson Police Constable (PC) Motlatsi Mofokeng are also on Commissioner Molibeli’s firing line as he seeks to rid the police force of subordinates he accuses of “engaging in an open rebellion against the police management”.

In a bid to address the police infighting and instability in other security agencies, Dr Majoro appointed an inter-ministerial committee comprising of ministers ‘Mamoipone Senauoane (Police and Public Safety), Prince Maliehe (Defence and National Security), Kemiso Mosenene (Prime Minister’s Office) and Prof Mahao as the chairperson.

Prof Mahao this week said they were in the process of putting final touches to their report before submitting it to the premier. Commenting on the issue yesterday, Dr Majoro said he expected to receive the detailed report on Thursday 17 September 2020.

“I have been informed that the committee is in the process of writing its report and it might table the report before me this Thursday,” Dr Majoro said.

He said preliminary briefings indicated that the problems within the police force were deeply entrenched and way deeper than the Molibeli-LEPOSA fight.

In an apparent response to LEPOSA’s spirited bid to have him fire Commissioner Molibeli, Dr Majoro said it would take more than just the removal of an individual to resolve the problems within the force.

LEPOSA had initially said they would march against Commissioner Molibeli on 3 September. They have now given Dr Majoro and the government up to Thursday to address their grievances, failing which they will march on Friday.

“Preliminary briefings indicate that the police issues are deep-rooted. The problems are not only between the commissioner and LEPOSA, they are deep-rooted and involve party politics.

“The fights date back to as far back as 2012. There is no easy solution to this issue. Removing one person from the police is not a sustainable solution to the police’s problems. We need to find means and ways of making peace among the warring sides in the police service.

“I recently met with LEPOSA and told them that we are all servants of the people and we must therefore closely work together to serve the nation. I asked them to allow me time to deal with this issue and that they must also agree that this issue is deeper than LEPOSA and the commissioner of police.

“There are certain wrongs that must be corrected. The police management have their hands full looking into problems that were left unattended for a long time. These long-standing issues were not corrected to an extent that we are now faced with serious tensions in the police service.

“We will deal with issues in the police service. I am just waiting to receive a report from my ministers to start the work of righting these wrongs. I think it was unfortunate that we reached a point where LEPOSA wanted to hold a protest march. I applaud them for adopting a wiser approach to allow me time to deal with these issues.”

Dr Majoro said while he was happy that LEPOSA had given him more time, addressing the problems in the police force would not be instant or easy.

“It is not going to be an overnight process. We are all going to work hard to mend fences between warring sides in the police force to achieve peace and stability. After that we will go further to deal with similar issues in the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS). Once it has concluded its mandate, the same inter-ministerial committee will assist me in dealing with issues in the LCS,” Dr Majoro said.

On criticism from some quarters that the inter-ministerial committee was not politically balanced as it was only made up of members of his own All Basotho Convention (ABC), Dr Majoro said such criticism was a clear indication of the “politicisation of the police force”. He however, did not say who had politicised the force.

“Suggesting that this committee is not inclusive of all political parties in government is a clear indication of the politicisation in the police service. However, I established that committee with ministers whom I believe are competent enough to deal with police issues professionally. I have no reason not to believe in them simply because they are from a certain political party.

“Police issues directly affect Professor Mahao’s ministry of justice. We also have the minister of police, minister of defence and the minister in the prime minister’s office in the committee.

“All of these people have what it takes to execute this assignment. I told them there were tensions in the police service and they should probe those issues. I am happy with their work and their terms of reference are very clear.

“They should also make recommendations on how best we can right those wrongs to enable the police service to efficiently discharge its mandate.

“These are the same terms of reference for their next mission in the LCS. I don’t expect people to start complaining that I was supposed to have assembled a politically balanced committee,” Dr Majoro said.

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