Police to act on SR leader
THE police say they will get “tough” with the leader of Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) party, Teboho Mojapela, after he lost his urgent court bid to prevent the police from quizzing him over the defamatory statements he allegedly directed at the First Lady, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, two weeks ago in Mokhotlong.
This was said by police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, in the aftermath of Friday’s court ruling by the High Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, that the police had a right to call Mr Mojapela for questioning as part of their mandate to investigate any cases.
Mr Mojapela on Wednesday filed an urgent application before the Constitutional Court seeking, among other orders, that the court should prevent Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Beleme Lebajoa, from calling him for “questioning” before the scheduled official launch of his party yesterday.
In the court papers, Mr Mojapela had sought an order that, “Policeman Beleme Lebajoa be interdicted from calling the applicant to discuss the issue of impending charges for crimen injuria concerning or alleged defamatory statements against the First Lady of Lesotho”.
The nature of the defamatory statements were not disclosed.
Justice Makara however, ruled against Mr Mojapela, saying the police had powers to call people for questioning as part of their investigations.
“The court finds no basis for granting the interdict in this prayer,” Justice Makara ruled.
“It is the understanding of this court that police are mandated to restore peace and maintain order, thus the courts should be cautious not to interfere with their duty,” he added.
Mr Mojapela had also sought an order “that the police be interdicted from interfering with his right to participate in the official launch of his legally registered political party by the name of Socialist Revolutionaries which he leads”.
But, Justice Mokara said the police had “not shown any interest in disrupting the applicant’s conference”.
Mr Mojapela has cited Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights, Lebohang Hlaele, Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli, ACP Beleme Lebajoa, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General as first to sixth respondents respectively.
Mr Mojapela is also challenging the provisions of the Penal Code Act of 2010 that make defamation a criminal offence.
He wants the Constitutional Court to declare that provision unconstitutional.
Justice Makara ordered the lawyers to return to court on 26 March 2018 to set a date for the arguing the constitutional application.
The respondents were also ordered to file their answering affidavits by 16 March 2018, while the Mr Mojapela should file his replying affidavit by 23 March 2018.
Meanwhile, the ruling that the police are within their rights to call Mr Mojapela for questioning has paved the way for them to summon him for questioning. Supt Mopeli yesterday told this publication that they will get tough with Mr Mojapela because he had failed to report himself whenever he was called upon to do so.
“Mr Mojapela told the police he will report to the police on Monday. Unfortunately, he cannot dictate when he chooses to cooperate with the police when there is an investigation. We will get him by ourselves because he never came when we called him several times,” Supt Mopeli said.