Police promotions revoked
POLICE officers who were controversially promoted by Police Commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa, a day after the 3 June 2017 snap elections which ushered in the All Basotho Convention-led four party coalition government, will have to revert to their previous ranks following a High Court ruling on Thursday.
The ruling was made in the case where the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) had challenged the promotions on the grounds that they violated the laws governing the police service.
Commissioner Letsoepa, who is currently on an enforced leave which is widely seen as the prelude to his dismissal by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, promoted 36 police officers on 4 June 2017.
This prompted LEPOSA to lodge a court application to nullify the promotions.
LEPOSA also sought a temporary order to freeze the newly promoted police officers’ salaries until the case had been finalised.
High Court judge, Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, ordered that the new promotions should remain in force until the application had been finalised.
And on the Thursday, the High Court granted LEPOSA’s application for the nullification of the promotions after the commissioner of police and the Attorney General withdrew their defence.
The commissioner and the Attorney General initially opposed LEPOSA’s application until 7 August this year when their lawyers informed the court that they intended to withdraw their defence.
The move did not sit well with some of the promoted officers who were also cited as respondents to the case.
They lodged their objection that the commissioner and the Attorney General could not withdraw their defence, because they (promoted officers) relied on the commissioner’s affidavit to also defend their case.
But the High Court delivered a blow on Thursday when it ruled that the commissioner and the Attorney General had a right to withdraw their defence.
The court also ruled in favour of LEPOSA.
This means that the police officers must revert to the ranks which they held before the controversial promotions.
The about-turn by the police authorities to withdraw their defence was done after Commissioner Letsoepa was last month sent on an enforced 90 day leave as the new regime moves to replace him in the top position.
Subsequent to Commissioner Letsoepa’s forced leave, Keketso Monaheng acted as the police commissioner before he was replaced by Holomo Molibeli, also in an acting capacity.
Upon assuming duties, Mr Monaheng on 30 June 2017 ordered that the salaries of the newly promoted police officers be suspended pending finalisation of the case before the High Court.
This, did not sit well with the promoted officers and they filed an urgent application before the High Court seeking to reverse Mr Monaheng’s decision.
In the notice of motion the officers petitioned the court to order that “the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Police to reverse the salaries of the applicants on their newly promoted positions should be declared null and void.”
In addition, they wanted the court to order that “the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Police to reverse the salaries of the applicants on their newly promoted positions should not be implemented until the proceedings in CIV/APN/216/2017 have been finalised.”
The LEPOSA petition was filed under the case number CIV/APN/216/2017.