Moleleki hails army, police collaboration
POLICE and Public Safety Minister Monyane Moleleki on Friday said 50 army and police officers underwent a six-week joint training session to foster good working relations between the two agencies.
In his remarks during the official opening of offices and homes built at a cost of M18 million at the Ha Mokhalinyane Police Post, Mr Moleleki said the training was conducted by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
The minister said the two security agencies had resolved their differences and were now working in harmony.
The LDF and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) had been at loggerheads since the army command refused to cooperate with police investigations into the bombing of three Maseru homes on 27 January 2014. This was after the LDF refused to release eight soldiers the police wanted to help in the investigations.
The tiff escalated on 30 August 2014 after the LDF attacked three key Maseru police stations, Maseru Central Police Station, Mabote Police Station and Police Headquarters. Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko was shot dead during the attack on Police Headquarters in what the army said was a special operation.
“I am proud to inform you that the relations between the army and police have now been sorted out and I pray that we never go back to that situation,” said Mr Moleleki.
“To illustrate how they are now working together, 11 suspects robbed a Chinese-owned shop in the city centre at gunpoint on 4 July 2016.
“The suspects fled and went on to terrorise EverFresh Supermarket, killing a security guard and escaping with his gun. Members of the army chased and arrested one of the suspects who had the security guard’s gun and another firearm.”
The minister said the soldiers handed over the suspect to the police, showing the improved working relations between the agencies.
In keeping with the harmonious relations, Mr Moleleki said LDF commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli and LMPS Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa agreed to each identify 25 members from their respective agencies to undergo a special joint training session.
“They were trained by members of the army and recently participated in a vigil with the LDF commander and police commissioner. I am told that during the vigil, it was almost impossible to tell the difference between the army and police officers because of their unity,” said the minister.
“The group will be handed over to the Police Commissioner on Friday next week, who will then hand them over to their own special commander who is a lawyer by profession.”
He said lawbreakers should beware because the army and police were collaborating in fighting crime.
“The army and the police are no longer enemies. The enemy of the army, police and community policing are the criminals and the three agencies will not hesitate to put them in their place,” Mr Moleleki said.
The newly-constructed Mokhalinyane Police Post, he said, would bring “state terrorism” brought about by poor infrastructure to an end.
“In the past, suspects were tied to a tree, big stone or tyre and that was regarded as state terrorism. However, now that we have world-class police stations and posts, suspects will be kept in holding cells with improved living conditions such as sanitation.”
The minister further said the newly-built police stations and posts in Ketane and Phamong situated in Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng, Sefikeng (Berea), Hlotse, ‘Muela and Pitseng had already been completed.
Plans were afoot, Mr Moleleki added, to construct stations and posts in Butha-Buthe, Qacha’s Nek and Semonkong during this financial year.
For his part, Commissioner Letsoepa said the Mokhalinyane Police Post served 55 villages and was critical in ensuring the wellbeing of the residents.
“The Mokhalinyane Police Post was established around 1978 following the murder of the Frazers Supermarket manager during a robbery. At the time, crime was rampant in the area,” he said.
“Over the years, our office and residential areas were dilapidated and police officers were left with no option but to rent houses. It took selflessness and devotion for them to continue serving this community despite these challenges.”
Commissioner Letsoepa also noted the police would not have been successful in combating crime in the area were it not for the close relations they had with the community.
“It is important for everyone to understand that the police need the help of the community to successfully eradicate crime,” he said.