Police boss says tipped over arrest

Police boss says tipped over arrest

MASERU-COMMISSIONER of Police Holomo Molibeli says intelligence agents had told him earlier that he was going to be arrested and his job given to his junior assistant.

Commissioner Molibeli told the High Court in an affidavit that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his immediate boss, Police Minister Lehlohonolo Moramotse, ignored a court order issued a few hours earlier.
“The ploy was to deploy the military in order to achieve the strategy, to arrest me and detain me, so that (Assistant Commissioner Sera Makharilele) could continue to act as the Commissioner of Police, so the intelligence told me,” he said.

Commissioner Molibeli, in an urgent application filed on Saturday after the army’s alleged plan to arrest him was foiled, asked the High Court to stop Thabane and Moramotse from suspending him and making any officer an acting commissioner.

He told the court that on Thursday last week Thabane wrote to him seeking “to illegally suspend me contrary to the Constitution and Police Service Act 1998”.

He launched an urgent application asking the court to stop Thabane and Justice Semapo Peete gave a court directive saying “the matter is sub judice and the status quo must be maintained until final determination”.
Justice Peete also directed the parties to file papers before last Tuesday so that the case could be heard on Monday next week.

This means Thabane and Moramotse would not seek to remove Commissioner Molibeli from office pending the finalisation of the case.
However, a day later on Friday and after Justice Peete’s directive, Commissioner Molibeli says he received intelligence that the army was going to arrest and detain him so that ACP Makharilele is put in his office as the acting commissioner.

“I have all reason to believe the intelligence reports since all reports I have been given by them since at least January 2020 regarding my forced leave, suspension and retirement, have been fulfilled in fact exactly as reported,” he says.

“I had no reason to doubt the intelligence this time around.”
True to this information, on Saturday heavily armed soldiers driving combat vehicles surrounded the police headquarters early in the morning while others were driving up and down in Maseru.

This followed Thabane’s speech on Friday morning on state-owned radio and television saying “certain people and some institutions of government responsible for protecting and upholding democratic government are out to soil the integrity of the government”.

Thabane said individuals and institutions responsible for upholding the democratic government were launching “their attack conveniently hiding behind the veil of courts of law, free speech and some fundamental human rights”.

Commissioner Molibeli says it is clear that the deployment of soldiers in Maseru and Thabane’s speech were “context-specific and were targeted solely on me” as one who approached the court asking it to stop Thabane from removing him from office.

He says the police service under his superintendence is responsible for the maintenance of law and order, contributing to the protection of the democratic rule and governance.

He also says the police, the National Security Service (NSS) and the army have not observed these things that Thabane are saying “or tension or riots which necessitate the invocation of the measures adopted by (Thabane) in his speech”.

“Isolated incidents of non-compliance have been and continue to exist and are being dealt with by the three institutions, according to the law,” he says.
Commissioner Molibeli says it is Justice Peete’s directive that Thabane says he is hiding behind the courts to soil the dignity of the government.
He says Thabane and Moramotse are the ones who feel not dignified

because he is investigating them “on allegations of criminal conduct…whose names were as a result in public discourse space”.
“I aver that by resorting to the laws of this Kingdom to deal with the illegalities aforesaid has nothing to do with soiling the integrity of (Thabane and Moramotse) or of threatening the pillars of democratic governance, or

destabilising the government itself.”
“All that it does is to frustrate (Thabane and Moramotse) in their strategy and ploy to have me illegally suspended and forcefully removed from the office of the Commissioner of Police.”

He said Thabane’s speech was a tactful and strategic ploy to camouflage his and Moramotse’s intentions to suspend him from the office and to arrest and detain him so that ACP Makharilele or any other officer could be appointed to act.

Thabane and First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane are facing charges of murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane who was gunned down two days before Thabane was inaugurated premier in June 2017.
Thabane and ’Maesaiah wed a few months later.
Moramotse is facing charges of defying the Covid-19 lockdown rules.

Staff Reporter

Previous Minister spends night in custody
Next Oust Thabane, says Chief Theko

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