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COMPOL challenges show cause letter

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU –  Embattled Commissioner of Police (COMPOL) Holomo Molibeli has approached the courts to challenge the strong worded show cause letter from the Prime Minister (PM) Dr Moeketsi Majoro.

On June 1, the PM wrote a letter containing litany of accusations against the COMPOL, directing the latter to “make representations indicating why I [PM] should not advise the King to retire you as the Commissioner of Police in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness [of Lesotho Mounted Police Service]”.

The letter had directed Molibeli to reply within 48 hours of its receipt, which was on Friday but instead he approached the courts of law for remedy.

The COMPOL has then filed an application seeking the court to review this decision and subsequently offer a relief.

He is the applicant, while the respondents are the PM, the Minister of Police, the Attorney General and His Majesty the King as first to fourth respondents respectively.

“In terms of section 5(3) the Police Act No.7 of 1998, The King, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, may require the Commissioner to retire in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness. As the Prime Minister and acting in terms of the above section, I intend to advice the King to retire you in the interest of efficiency and effectiveness in the Police Service. But before doing that, I want to give you the opportunity to make representations…,” reads the letter in pertinent part.

The letter accuses COMPOL of “disoriented command and the administration of Police Service [that] has recently culminated into unheard of conduct by yourself”. It further says he is “perpetually disregarding the Police Authority” adding that this “behavior is rendering the LMPS inefficient, if not effective”.

It further says he had disregarded the court order that nullified the promotions of the Police, the promotions he effected without consulting the Police Authority.

“This is an inexcusable contempt committed by yourself and you will agree with me that this kind of behavior renders the Police Service inefficient if not ineffective,” the letter continues.

Dr Majoro’s missive has also found Molibeli seeking to promote 19 Police officers without consulting the Police Authority saying “it is only proper and administratively correct that the Police Authority is properly briefed”. It further says there are “negative financial implications” on account of the promotions he made without consultation with the Police Authority and the Ministry of Police’s Principal Secretary.

The PM took a swipe at the COMPOL that these promotions seemed to have been applied selectively as he had promoted only officers based in Headquarters Radio Room unit whereas the other officers throughout the country performing the same functions did not receive an upward mobility.

Also, among other charges levelled against COMPOL in the missive, ranges from “widespread” reports of police brutality citing the alleged torture of the Human Rights lawyer Advocate Napo Mafaesa, the theft of 83 guns in Mafeteng Police Station allegedly by police officers, crime attack at DevCourt residence for “complicity” on the part of police or “that criminals no longer fear” police.

The letter further says some members of LMPS are part of criminal gangs citing an incident wherein the police officer in Mokhotlong was allegedly killed by the gangs.

“During your tenure the divisions within the Police have spread, and thus undermining order and the effectiveness of the police. I have watched with trepidation as Operation Restore Hope, a government flagship joint unit comprising Police, Army, and Intelligence to fight rampant crime has been rendered ineffective by your lack of support and participation in the joint operation,” the accusations levelled against COMPOL continues.

This was not the first attempt to send Molibeli home.

In early 2020, the then PM Hon. Motsoahae Thabane had attempted to send COMPOL on an early leave but the latter challenged that decision in court and he won that case and had been in office on an order of court.

The seemingly protracted legal battle against the COMPOL and PM will determine the fate of Molibeli’s Commissionership when the courts delivers the ruling on the matter.