Shake-up in police

Shake-up in police

MASERU – Police Minister ’Mampho Mokhele this week effected major changes in the police with a senior top officer, Holomo Molibeli, who resigned in 2015 bouncing back as acting police commissioner. Deputy Commissioner Keketso Monaheng who was the acting after Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa was sent on a 90-day leave three weeks ago, has returned to his position.

Mokhele confirmed the shake-up last night. “Molibeli is not yet the commissioner, he is simply acting in that office,” Mokhele said.
Molibeli resigned in 2015 after political pressure from the then government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. When he resigned, Molibeli was heading the Criminal Investigation Division which is responsible for investigating serious cases of fraud and corruption.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party accused Molibeli of being an active member of the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
Molibeli never disclosed the reasons why he took early retirement from the police. When Prime Minister Thomas Thabane took over the reins last month, Molibeli was appointed to head the Criminal Investigation Division, a move that raised eyebrows within the opposition.

Mokhele, who is a former senior police officer, could not be brought to discuss the reasons why the government had recalled a retired police officer to head the police service. Meanwhile, the minister also confirmed to thepost that police officers who were dismissed by the previous government over allegations that they were meddling in politics have been recalled. They resumed their duties on Tuesday.

More than 20 police officers were dismissed from their work for various reasons. But most were alleged to be attending the then opposition ABC rallies, in violation of the Police Act. “Those police officers went to court after they were dismissed from their work and the courts ruled in their favour but the former government did not execute the court orders,” Mokhele said.

Mokhele said the police officers who were alleged to have attended political rallies should have been given a fair hearing before they were dismissed.
“A principle of natural justice would have been applied to those police officers to determine whether they had breached certain provisions of the Police Act,” she said. “But unfortunately this was not done,” she said.

Mokhele said “the government had to establish the truthfulness over the allegations that they were involved in party politics”.
The minister said the law bars police officers from taking part in politics. “If some of the police officers in question, had dabbled in party politics, that has to be established,” she said. Mokhele said she will have to tread carefully to ensure that no police officers are dismissed from their work illegally as her ministry would incur lots of expenses.

“The police officers who were illegally dismissed from their jobs will have to be paid their outstanding salaries,” she said.
She cited the case of former Commissioner of Police, Khothatso Tšooana, who was dismissed from work by the former government without giving him even a cent.

She said Tšooana was way below the retirement age of 55 years when he was fired. “He is one of those police officers who were illegally dismissed from work,” she said. The minister said such dismissals have indebted her ministry because it will have to be surcharged.
Meanwhile, Mokhele also confirmed that the police officers who were promoted by the previous government, have all returned to their previous ranks pending a ruling by the courts. The promotions were to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Senior Superintendent, Superintendent and Senior Inspector.

Judgement in the matter will be delivered next month. Mokhele said in order for a promotion to be made, certain procedures must be followed.
“But over and above all, the promotions should be from the authority,” she said.

Majara Molupe

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