Police shoot down demo

Police shoot down demo

Justice Maqelepo

MASERU

POLICE last Friday turned down an application by members of Coop Lesotho to march against Small Businesses Minister Thabiso Litšiba and Cooperatives Commissioner ’Maphamoli Lekoetje.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Clifford Molefe told thepost they turned down the request because the march would pose a threat to public order and security.

The cooperative members wanted to march to the High Court where a case they lodged against Lekoetje and Litšiba was scheduled to be heard.

Molefe said marching to a court of law and demonstrating in a case in which they had an interest amounted to a security threat.

“In a nutshell, such a demonstration is denied,” he said.

However, the Coop Lesotho’s general manager Thabo Shale alleged that the police had denied them the right to march because most of their members were “too old to march”.

He said they were further told to congregate at the High Court where police would keep a close eye on them.

But Molefe rejected Shale’s claims saying the police do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion or race.

“As the police our concern is peace and security,” he said.

The co-operative members were planning to march from Bonhomme House along the Main North 1 Road to the High Court where their cooperative’s general manager Thabo Shale would be seized in a legal battle with the minister and the commissioner.

They are accusing the minister and the commissioner of interfering in the running of the cooperative.

Minister Litšiba and commissioner Lekoetje are in a fierce legal fight with Shale and the Coop Lesotho board over what Lekoetje sees as mismanagement of the cooperative to the prejudice of its members.

Lekoetje suspended the board using powers springing from the Cooperative Societies Act, saying she protected it against collapse because it was being mismanaged.

When the board responded by asking the court to intervene, Litšiba and Lekoetje quickly decided to launch investigations that revealed that some funds had gone missing.

In light of what the investigations revealed, they also appointed some district officials and two employees of the cooperative to prepare it for winding up so that it can pay its debts.

Last Friday the High Court was expected to hear arguments on who between Litšiba, Lekoetje and Coop Lesotho’s board has legal right to control the cooperative.

However, the case was postponed to a date yet to be finalised.

Shale accuses Lekoetje of undue interference in the Coop Lesotho financial decisions.

He believes she has no such right because she is a civil servant and Coop Lesotho is a business entity entirely independent from the control of the government in its daily operations.

Shale told thepost that Lekoetje’s role in cooperatives is to regulate and not to run individual cooperatives as she does with Coop Lesotho.

Other cooperative societies affiliated to Coop Lesotho were expected to come from as far as Quthing, Thaba-Tseka, Butha-Buthe and Mohale’s Hoek.

They include the Lesotho Seed Growers Coop, Leribe Buying and Selling Syndicate, Thari Multi-Purpose, Berea Poultry and Majakathata Cooperative.

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