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Ministers intervene in DPP-police wrangle

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Mohalenyane Phakela

MINISTERS, Professor Nqosa Mahao (Justice and Law) and ‘Mamoipone Senauoane (Police and Public Safety) have joined forces in a bid to resolve the impasse between the police command and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane.

Prime Minister’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, told the Sunday Express that the two ministers recently met to find ways of resolving the stand-off between the two sides which has resulted in delays in prosecuting former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, and other suspects for the 14 June 2017 murder of Mr Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo.

“The relevant ministers (Prof Mahao and Ms Senauoane) met after realising that there were tensions between the two parties (police command and DPP Motinyane),” Mr Moseme said in an interview with the Sunday Express over the weekend.

“The ministers want to resolve the issue as it has affected both their ministries. I cannot tell how far they have gone towards resolving the matter because they have not yet submitted a report to the prime minister (Moeketsi Majoro). They are best placed to say how far they have gone in addressing the issue,” Mr Moseme added.

Prof Mahao refused to comment while Ms Senauoane’s mobile phone rang unanswered yesterday.

DPP Motinyane has traded accusations with Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, and his deputy (DCP) Paseka Mokete, over who is to blame for the delays in prosecuting the Lipolelo murder case.

Last month, Commissioner Molibeli and DCP Mokete told the Lesotho Times that the police had done their part by investigating and handing over the docket to the DPP’s office.

DCP Mokete said they had built a “water-tight” case against Mr Thabane who is yet to appear in court to be formally charged over the murder allegations.

‘Maesaiah was arrested and charged with murder in February 2020. She is currently out on bail. Mr Thabane is yet to be formally charged with the Lipolelo murder despite DCP Mokete saying on numerous occasions that he would charge last year.

Mr Thabane had initially argued that he could not be charged while still in office and was even granted leave by the Maseru Magistrates’ Court to petition the Constitutional Court over the matter.

The argument is no longer valid after he was forced to step down in May 2020 by his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) in favour of the current incumbent, Moeketsi Majoro.

Commenting on the issue last month, DCP Mokete said, “the only hurdle we are having is the delay by the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions”.

“We are sure that we have a water tight case against all the people who were mentioned as suspects. we have submitted all our papers and everything is orderly and we don’t know what the hold- up is all about,” DCP Mokete said.

On his part, Commissioner Molibeli said the matter was out of their hands as they had submitted all the relevant files to the DPP.

Their allegations were denied by DPP Motinyane who later told the Sunday Express that the delays in prosecuting Mr Thabane and other suspects for Lipolelo’s murder rested squarely on the shoulders of the police bosses whom she said had largely failed to cooperate with her office.

DPP Motinyane complained that her office had been under “relentless and sustained attack from the Commissioner (Molibeli) and his deputy (Deputy Commissioner of police — DCP) Mokete over matters they could have clarified with her before going to the press”.

She said DCP Mokete had, among other things, failed to bring in Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Beleme Lebajoa to be interviewed by her office in connection with the Lipolelo murder.

“The delayed progress in the case against the former prime minister has a comprehensive history that is not limited to the office of the DPP as is being suggested by the commissioner and his deputy.

“There has been a wide range of challenges ranging from technical matters to subtle and outright pressures which have impacted negatively on the prosecution’s steam in pursuing the case. I have not relented a bit from any of these challenges and as the public knows, I have engaged a private prosecutor (South African Adv Shaun Abrahams) to assist with the case precisely to rid my office of impressions of bias owing to the profile of the case

“DCP Mokete, who is now the lead investigator in this case has failed to bring in his deputy, ACP Lebajoa to be interviewed by my office in connection with this case,” DPP Motinyane said.

She said she needed time to consult before issuing a fuller response “to ensure that I do not in any way bring into disrepute any implicated office, officers, or arm of the government of Lesotho”.

Apart from delaying the prosecution of the Lipolelo case, any quarrel between the police command and DPP has the potential of paralysing the justice system because both sides are needed to ensure the successful prosecution of all cases. The paralysis in the justice system works to the advantage of criminals who will not be arrested and have their day in the courts of law.

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