LCS boss in trouble

LCS boss in trouble

MASERU – THE government this week lashed out at the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) boss, Thabang Mothepu, for disrespecting the Ombudsman.
There was a public outcry last week after Mothepu caused some drama during the Ombudsman’s investigations into the administrative activities of the LCS.
Mothepu, who had been summoned for interrogation, was accompanied by heavily armed bodyguards who insisted on getting into the Ombudsman’s hearing hall with their guns.
The police had to be called to bring the Commissioner’s bodyguards to order.

A defiant Mothepu refused to answer some of the questions during the hearing.
He said he brought the bodyguards because he feared he could be attacked by people sitting behind him in the hall.
Mothepu was referring to junior prison warders who had brought charges against him before the Ombudsman. They accused him of promoting staff based on political party affiliation.
Ombudsman Advocate Leshele Thoahlane volunteered to be searched by the police in public to set an example that everybody entering the hall was subject to the same body search.
But the government is not amused by what happened last week.

In a scathing statement issued on Monday, the Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka condemned the incident. It said it was sorry.
Mphaka said the government is “aware of the bad behaviour and misconduct reflected by some senior government officials who appear before institutions that guide the public, including parliamentary committees and other institutions”.

“Some show disrespect and they try to direct these institutions and committees how to do their jobs,” the statement reads.
The statement says it is embarrassing for senior government officials to appear before holders of statutory positions with guns.
It said it was embarrassing that Ombudsman Leshele Thoahlane “had to place himself on the line of embarrassment just for the investigations to progress”.

“These actions are done by people who were born, raised and educated by Basotho, teaching them so that they have a clear understanding of proper conduct and respect,” the statement said.
The statement said the incident is a throw-back to the dark days when soldiers used to enter courts of law heavily armed with guns and wearing balaclavas.
The statement says these soldiers were “walking with pride behind their chained colleagues after they were kidnapped and assaulted just because they were following rule of law”.
This was in reference to 2015 incidents when soldiers who were accused of mutiny against Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli in favour of his nemesis Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao were rounded up and incarcerated at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison.

“So part of Basotho say this government is the same with the past regime that was exposed by SADC’s Mphaphi Phumaphi’s commission,” statement continues.
“The government will not (sit) back and watch when the country is taken back to times of cannibalism,” it reads.
The government says it will “not stand the shame and embarrassment of state institutions that turns the country into a laughing stock of other countries”.

“Everyone should abide by the law and the government will not let public servants turn into bosses,” it reads.
“The government apologises to the embarrassed public who were enraged by such behaviour.”
Mothepu had a tough time explaining before Ombudsman why he was appointed the correctional services boss on May 31 despite the fact that ’Matefo Makhalemele was still the substantive head of the LCS.

I did not stoke Mothepu’s defiance: Moletsane

WHEN the Ombudsman ordered Mothepu to stop the promotions pending the finalization of investigations into the promotions, the LCS boss received support from Justice Minister Mokhele Moletsane.

Mothepu ignored the order. Moletsane said the Ombudsman’s order was correctly ignored and defended Mothepu’s appointment as LCS boss.
He also insisted that Mothepu was within the parameters of the law when he effected the promotions.
Did he stoke the fires of defiance within Mothepu, thepost asked Moletsane this week. Below is his response:

I knew that Commissioner Mothepu would appear before the Ombudsman. He also told me that they met with the Ombudsman before his appearance for questioning where they discussed issues of Mothepu’s security and the Ombudsman allowed Mothepu to enter in the hearing hall with his bodyguards.
The Ombudsman had agreed but a day later the Ombudsman changed his mind and said he would no longer allow Mothepu’s security details.
That was when Mothepu and the Ombudsman sat down again and agreed that there would be the police at the hearing.

Commissioner Mothepu is a prominent person like the Commissioner of Police and the Army Commander and all of them have bodyguards.
On the day of the hearing, the police were there and they searched the people including the Ombudsman himself.
I don’t know why some people want to blow this issue out of proportion.

I am waiting to see what the Ombudsman will report, to see whether he will reveal those correctional officers who are said to have been promoted based on political patronage. I want to see if he will also reveal the parties they are affiliated to. I don’t want to say anything more about Mothepu’s bodyguards. All I know is that the Ombudsman was not forced to be searched.

I know the people who are blowing this issue out of proportion. They are doing this because I refused when they wanted the promotions to be made based on political affiliation.
There are people in this government who want to be treated better than others just because they are part of government.
I will not allow this at all. I have not sat down with anybody to discuss politically motivated promotions.

It is just that some people in this government want to be treated better than others.
Next week I will issue a statement about these things that are being said by these people.

Nkheli Liphoto

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