Minister blasts police

Minister blasts police

MASERU- TRADE Minister Tefo Mapesela this week broke ranks with his colleagues in Cabinet as he lashed out at police brutality.
The opposition quickly applauded Mapesela for speaking out.
Mapesela told a privately owned radio station, Harvest FM, that the torture of suspects by the police was barbaric and unacceptable.
This was the second time that Mapesela had openly criticised the police.

Mapesela said the use of torture by the police could lead to the collapse of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
“It is uncalled for that these police kill people whom they are supposed to protect and no action is taken against them,” Mapesela said.
“Transferring them after they committed gross violation of human rights is not a proper way of dealing with the problem.”

Mapesela said the government must be seen to be protecting the rights of all citizens by suspending the police officers pending investigations.
Those that have a case to answer must be prosecuted, he said.

He said the police are in the habit of assaulting, injuring or even killing crime suspects and they get off the hook “because they protect each other and the government is turning a blind eye to their barbaric acts”.

He said if the government does not act against the police who torture, kill or violate the rights of suspects “this will lead to the collapse of our government”.

“With all honesty I truly say these police officers will cause the fall of our government just as the soldiers who committed barbaric acts led to the collapse of the past government,” Mapesela said.
“The past government took no action when soldiers were killing people and throwing others into dams and the people turned against it.”
“At that time I continuously condemned their acts as a member of the then opposition. I will continue condemning these acts as a member of the ruling party,” he said.
“I don’t care what will happen to me. I will not shut up until this is corrected just as I did not shut up until the wrongs of the past government were corrected.”
Mapesela has over the last two months become a vocal critic of the police heavy-handedness.
Last month he stood with the Kao people in Butha-Buthe after the police killed a resident and injured two others during a protest march against a local diamond mine which they accused of dumping rubble in their village.

Mapesela called for the immediate suspension of the police officers involved pending investigations, which never happened.
Unlike the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), the police are generally seen to be pro-Thabane.
In light of Mapesela’s attacks on the police, the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) spokesman Serialong Qoo said it is gratifying to note there is “someone brave enough in the government to oppose the Prime Minister”.

Qoo said the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had on several occasions called on the police to assault crime suspects in their custody.
Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party defended however defended his statements arguing the premier had been quoted out of context.
Qoo said they expected the “minister to support us in parliament to make the Speaker Ntate (Sephiri) Motanyane to order the Prime Minister to withdraw his statements”.

“The Speaker is not so keen on ordering the Prime Minister to withdraw his statements despite that he knows very well that he has incited the police into committing crimes,” he said.

“The police are taking power from Prime Minister Thabane’s statements and are violating human rights, torturing and killing crime suspects knowing that no action will be taken against them,” he said. “The minister is spot on.”

Staff Reporter

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