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Molise haunts government

by Sunday Express
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Former cop who served 11 years in jail for sedition is demanding compensation and reinstatement into the Lesotho Mounted Police Service

Bongiwe Zihlangu

PHAKISO Molise — a former cop sentenced to 11 years in prison for sedition in 2002 — is seeking a King’s Pardon, invalidation of his conviction, and reinstatement into the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

In addition, Mr Molise, who was a 2nd Lieutenant at the time of his arrest, is asking to be remunerated “up to date in consideration of promotions that would have come every two years”, and has threatened legal action should his demands not be met.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane dated 3 November 2014, and titled “Request to be reinstated into the police service and to be granted full pardon in respect of the unjust conviction and sentencing”, Mr Molise (54) gives a background of how he found himself being charged and convicted, and why he is seeking compensation and his job back.

“I wish to humbly request your good office to kindly advice His Majesty the King to grant me a Royal Pardon in respect of convictions and sentences on the purported sedition and so-called murder charges,” Mr Molise writes.

“You will recall, Mr Prime Minister, that I was a police officer in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and dismissed on or around March 2001, on the grounds that I had been convicted and sentenced, as an outcome of convictions on treason and murders, following the occurrences of 1997 in the police service.

“My contention is that I was falsely charged, convicted and sentenced, and never received justice.”

Mr Molise gives the State 14 working days to have considered his request, or he would seek legal remedy, “should we then not agree.”

The 14-day period lapses on 21 November.

Mr Molise has acknowledged writing the letter, but referred the Sunday Express to his lawyer, ‘Mole Khumalo for any discussions regarding the issue. He also refers the premier’s office to Advocate Khumalo in his letter, saying “he will negotiate on my behalf”. Advocate Khumalo would not comment on the letter on the grounds that he had discussed the matter with his client “at length”.

Mr Molise achieved notoriety by leading a police mutiny 17 years ago, for which he received a 15-year jail sentence.

Three months after his release from prison, in October 2010, Mr Molise escaped an alleged assassination after he was shot on the left side of his chest.

Thereafter, he sought protection from the United Nations (UN) and currently lives in Switzerland.

“I could have long tabled the matter but I was advised to wait until I gained a position of security, which I now have,” Mr Molise says in his letter.

“As it may be recalled, I survived an assassination attack three months after my release from prison.”

Mr Molise adds his incarceration was orchestrated because, after his conviction, he was denied the right to appeal the sentence.

“It means, therefore, that the process was manipulated so that I did not appear before the Court of Appeal, because it was clear I would win, on both the charge of the so-called murders of the Maseru Central Charge Office and treason case,” Mr Molise writes.

In the letter, Mr Molise also questions the credibility of charges instigated against him, saying on the charge of murder “I was found guilty on common purpose, yet the intention of the police that day could not be established by the court”.

“The court said even though it had not established what the accused had intended to do, it had been clear that they had been engaged in an unlawful enterprise.

“How would any sane person know that an unknown act is unlawful? You have to first know the act to analyse its essential elements; it is then that you would know that indeed, it is an illegal enterprise.”

He further submits that the act for which he was charged and subsequently convicted had to be known, in order to “investigate if it fits the doctrine of common purpose”.

“Firstly, whether it was an unlawful act, and secondly whether it was foreseeable that death might occur, and lastly, the person who was alleged to have killed was also shot and killed at the scene, yet we were prosecuted as if he was still alive as co-accused. The court never investigated if this person would have been found guilty or not. Not every killing is unlawful.”

Mr Molise adds: “According to crown witnesses, the deceased fired back when he was being fired at. This meant that he fired in self-defence, which could have then been legal.”

Evidence on record, the aggrieved former cop added, showed that the now-deceased would not have shot had he not been shot at.

“It was a good opportunity for the court to investigate, but it was not to be so, for I had to be found guilty as the government wanted, as it had been stated in parliament, that I was a criminal.”

According to Mr Molise, on 17 February 1997, following the violence at the Maseru Central Charge Office, the late Prime Minister, Ntsu Mokhehle, made a parliamentary speech “declaring me a criminal”.

“His speech was presented or tabled by his then deputy and police minister, Mr Pakalitha Mosisili, who later became prime minister,” Molise writes.

“I must mention at this stage that it was a wrong and illegal approach. It is not the duty of the executive to direct who should be prosecuted. That is a matter for the police to investigate and the prosecution to decide.

“Because there were no police investigations, the trial began three years after my incarceration. That had been an abuse of process by the state, an act that was unlawful, unfair and unjust.”

Based on the above, Mr Molise continues, there was no reasonable court of law that would not “find me guilty when government’s arms such as the executive and legislature have shown a desire to see me convicted, and had already seen or declared me a criminal”.

“It has to be noted that when the purported charges finally began, three years later, Mr Mosisili was now prime minister himself.”

The ex-cop asserts that his case starting only three years after his incarceration, denied him his constitutional right as per Section 12 regarding the right to a fair trial.

“If any person is charged with a criminal offence, then, unless the charge is withdrawn, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within reasonable time, by an independent and impartial court established by law; and shall be presumed innocent until he is proven, or has pleaded guilty,” Mr Molise quotes the Constitution of Lesotho.

He further alleges that, as a result of interference from the state, “the court found me guilty where there was no proof of any unlawful gathering, when there was no suggestion of such a gathering”.

“I was found not guilty of treason, rightly so, the court had pointed out that nothing that the police did during the time in question, was directed to the government,” Mr Molise submits.

“Logically, if treason fell off because nothing was directed to the state, automatically even sedition should have. The court simply wanted to find me guilty of something, just to please government.”

Mr Molise adds that attempts to get his case heard by the Court of Appeal failed because he was never given the opportunity to be heard by the apex court.

He adds even after his release from jail, he did attempt to bring his case to the upper court “without much success”.

“I have since appealed against both the conviction and sentence but I have not been heard by the Court of Appeal to date,” Mr Molise says.

The former 2nd Lieutenant, who escaped from jail in 2004 but was later caught in neighbouring South Africa and immediately repatriated allegedly without following legal extradition procedures, says he is also challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

“I was arrested in South Africa and brought back illegally before the Lesotho court of law,” Mr Molise says.

“That approach was, in fact, criminal, a crime against humanity, to have returned me in such a manner without legal process.

“For example, as we can see now, even people accused of barbaric ritual murders (referring to ritual murder-accused Lehlohonolo Scott), are being given their rightful legal opportunity to be heard, for the court to decide their fate.”

It means, therefore, Mr Molise asserts, that the process was manipulated so that he did not appear before the Court of Appeal, adding “because it was clearly visible that I would win”.

Mr Molise further tells Dr Thabane that he was giving the government an opportunity “to look into this matter for an amicable settlement”.

“I therefore appeal to you, to advice His Majesty to pardon me the whole of the convictions, per Section 101 of the Constitution of Lesotho under Prerogative of Mercy,” Mr Molise says.

Under Prerogative of Mercy, the constitution stipulates that the King may grant, to any person convicted of any offence under the law of Lesotho, a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions.

Furthermore, Mr Molise asks that he be reinstated into the police service, paid up to date, in consideration of “promotions that would have come every two years”.

“That is to say, Inspector from 2001/2003, Senior Inspector from 2003/2005, Superintendent 2005/2007, Senior Superintendent 2007/2009, Assistant Commissioner 2009/2011 and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) from 2011 to date,” Molise states.

“There is no doubt that I would now qualify even for the office of the Commissioner of Police (ComPol), but I am not counting on it as it is the prerogative of the minister, whereas up to DCP, I would be applying and qualifying for the respective positions.”

He further requests that in the event that he is reinstated “18 percent should be added to my salary”.

“Whether I will continue with the service until the age of 60, or retire, or be redeployed, that would be a subject for discussion, with you or the ministry as an employer.”

To support his argument, Mr Molise asserts that in 1994 he passed a Senior Officers Promotion course, but was not promoted the following year, “as I had a pending criminal case, in which I was cleared in 2007, and then I faced these manipulated cases”.

Mr Molise also maintains that he would qualify for promotions because he was committed to improving himself academically every year, that people who are in the police command today were his juniors “hence there is no doubt I would have continued like that”.

He again highlights how he contributed to the formation of improvements in the National Security Service, as well as the upgrading of the LMPS Special Operations Unit and Crime Intelligence.

“I spent time teaching security personnel from the three units on the use of technical information equipment in their general duties, like the collection of national intelligence, criminal investigation and military tactical intelligence,” Mr Molise added.

Contacted for comment, the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Thabo Thakalekoala, could not acknowledge the letter, referring the Sunday Express to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Pitso Maisa.  Mr Maisa was not immediately available for comment.

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