Police to pay for torture

Police to pay for torture

MASERU – POLICE officers who torture suspects will now be forced to pay all damages and costs of lawsuits from their own pockets, police commissioner Holomo Molibeli was told this week.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Selibe Mochoboroane told Commissioner Molibeli on Tuesday that police officers who violate the law must be prepared to pay.
Mochoboroane’s comments come after a damning 2017 Auditor General’s report that showed the police had paid M7 million in damages to torture victims.
“Ntate Commissioner, tell your police that they are the ones who will pay from their own pockets,” Mochoboroane said.

“We will surcharge you because we cannot tolerate this kind of expenditure. You are given money for development projects of the ministry and not for any other purpose.”
“Your police officers do all these things because they know that they are not the ones paying. They know that the government will pay. It’s time they feel the pinch.”
Mochoboroane’s instruction to Commissioner Molibeli came after a claimant who won a court case, Hareteke Tlhapi, asked for the PAC’s intervention because the police were not executing the judgement.

High Court online records do not have Tlhapi’s case. Tlhapi did not disclose to the PAC any details about his case.
He said the police were refusing to pay him despite that he won a compensation case against them.
Efforts by thepost to trace Tlhapi to find how much he had claimed also failed.

Tlhapi told the PAC that in 2013 he was arrested by the police who accused him of robbing a shop in Ha-Motloheloa in Maseru.
“I was beaten up by the police for a crime I did not commit,” Tlhapi said.
“They injured my backbone and starting from that time I (have been) unable to work,” he said.

“I went to court and opened a case against police and they were ordered to pay me for what they did to me, but till today they have never paid even a cent to me,” he said.
Pulane Tšiu from Police Directorate told the PAC that she was aware of the case. She said the problem is that there is no money.
“Only when we have the money will we pay,” Tšiu said.

Mochoboroane would have none of it.
Mochoboroane instructed the Police Ministry Principal Secretary Nkopane Monyane to make sure that Tlhapi is paid all his monies.
“Since 2013 you have been allocated money by this parliament every year. I don’t understand why you did not pay Mr Tlhapi,” he said.
Mochoboroane said the police are doing this deliberately because they do not personally feel the pain of paying the claimants.
“Police (officers) always assault people and in the end they want the government to pay for that,” he said.

“Each police (officer) should pay for his misbehaviour so that they can feel the pain of their bad behavior.”
“Commissioner, after 14 days when you come back be prepared to tell us that you told your police that they will pay for their misbehaviour. The government will no longer pay for them,” Mochoboroane said.

The Deputy Principal Secretary, Assistant Commissioner Ezekiel Senti, tried to justify why sometimes the police are tempted to use violence.
Senti told the PAC that on Tuesday morning he wanted to shoot a taxi driver who was running away after he arrested him for parking in the road thus causing a traffic jam.
“I could not shoot him because I realised that I could injure passersby because the street was overcrowded with people,” Senti said.
He said the driver had, instead of going to the police station where he had instructed him to go, made a U-turn and sped away.

Mochoboroane commended him for not shooting, saying there were other means he could use to arrest the man.
A PAC member, Palo Leteetee, said it is wrong for police officers to opt to draw a gun and shoot whoever they have a quarrel with.
“We will not tolerate this kind of behaviour from the police,” Leteetee said.
The PAC chief whip, Likopo Mahase, told the Commissioner and Principal Secretary that “Lesotho police are very unprofessional, the way the police do things clearly says it all”.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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