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Police officers sue commissioner

Nat Molomo MASERU — A group of police officers who are university graduates have sued the commissioner of police for not including them in the list of officers who got a salary review in May.

In court papers filed in the High Court on Thursday, the 61 police officers said they were not included when the government reviewed salaries for the police in May.

Their lawyer, Advocate Letuka Moloti, argues that his clients’ salaries should be reviewed because the increments were budgeted for.

The police officers also cited the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney General as respondents.

They want the court to declare their exclusion from the salary review as an “unfair and unreasonable discrimination and/or differentiation”.

They also want the court to order the respondents to pay them according to the new salary structure that came into effect at the end of May.

They said the respondents must pay the cost of suit. The officers approached the High Court after the Acting Commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza told them that the
review only applies to ranks not qualifications.

One of the applicants, Constable Moeketsi Mahetlane, told the court in his affidavit that Mhlakaza had assured them in November that they will be included in the new salary structure.

He said the commissioner gave the assurance at a meeting he had with the police officers on November 15.

Mahetlane explained that during a meeting on May 9 this year Mhlakaza then changed his story and told them that “the approved new salary structure does not affect the graduates”.

He said the commissioner said the review “affects only the ranks despite the fact that even the salaries for the graduates were budgeted for”.

Mahetlane said when they got their salaries in May they realised that indeed they had not been included in the review.

He said it was ironic that 115 police recruits who have not yet even passed police training course have been included among police officers and enjoying revised salaries,

yet university graduates are not paid revised salaries. “I submit that we were not given a hearing when the decision to discriminate and differentiate us was made by the police authority,” Mahetlane said.

He said the court must intervene because:

? The budget for the salary review included all police officers

? The Mhlakaza’s decision is contrary to the established practices

? Police officers with university degrees are not given a salary increase while those without university qualifications are paid increased salaries

? The commissioner has withheld salary increments for university graduates without any legal or moral justification

? The commissioner is discouraging university graduates from joining the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) by ill-treating them and causing them a continuous disgruntlement

? The decision “runs at loggerheads” with the “notion of skills and education empowerment of police and public service with men and women who can advance service delivery and justice”.

? The decision is so unreasonable that it should not be allowed to see the light of day

Mahetlane joined the LMPS in July 1992 and after completing police training he was posted to Butha-Buthe police station as a uniformed police trooper.

He said during his 20 years in the police force he obtained diploma in mass communication from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and a degree in Information Technology from the University of Johannesburg in 2009.

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