159 more guns missing

159 more guns missing

MASERU – THE police are investigating the disappearance of 159 guns that were part of a consignment the Lesotho Police Staff Association (Leposa) bought for its members.
So far the police have arrested Leposa’s president, Senior Inspector Teboho Modia, secretary general Inspector ’Makatleho Mphetho and treasurer ’Mathebe Motseki.

S/Insp Mphetho and L/Sgt Motseki were questioned and released on Monday while Inspector Modia spent the weekend in police holding cells.
On Tuesday evening heavily armed police officers stormed the Leposa offices in Maseru.
This investigation is not connected to the 75 guns that were stolen from the armoury at the Mafeteng Police Station on November 6.
In that case, the police have arrested three senior cops, a Chinese businessman and an ordinary Mosotho.

The suspects include Senior Inspector Liketso Lephoto who was in charge of the keys to the armoury.
In the Leposa case, the missing guns were part of the 1 500 the association bought for on-sale to members between 2014 and 2015.
The idea was to help police officers acquire guns because the police were not providing them with any despite the inherent dangers in their work.
thepost can reveal that Leposa sold 1 300 guns to officers for a small profit. Each gun was sold for about M9 000, slightly above the M8 500 that the association had paid to the supplier. Most of the officers paid through stop orders.

Leposa is however unable to account for some 159 guns. It has no record of who bought those guns and for how much. Their sale is not reflected in the association’s accounts.
thepost has been told that some members of Leposa’s committee sold the guns, at huge profits, to politicians, soldiers, MPs, principal secretaries and individuals.
Sources say the average price of a gun on this illegal market was M13 500.

The police want to know who bought the guns and if the buyers had the prerequisite licence to own firearms. In addition, the management believes those who sold the guns outside the Leposa membership should be charged for illegally trading in munitions.
Yet this paper has been told that even before the police started investigations, Leposa’s committee was already divided over the missing guns.

Leposa spokesman Constable Motlatsi Mofokeng, whom Commissioner Holomo Molibeli said he does not have a say in the police affairs because he has since been fired, said the missing guns are worth M1.8 million.
Constable Mofokeng, who the police say is a fugitive after he skipped the country when they wanted to arrest him, alleges that the guns were stolen by some committee members who sold them on the black market.
“We have got some corrupt members in the Leposa committee who have taken part in the gun scandal,” Constable Mofokeng.
“We have split into two because of a deep-seated rot in our organisation. We have been fighting internally over this.”

“These corrupt officials were able to build beautiful homes with the proceeds accrued from the selling of the association’s guns. The serial numbers of the guns did not show to whom the guns have been given to.”
During the Tuesday raid, the police seized computers and boxes of documents.
Deputy police spokesperson, Sub-Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka described the raid as “successful because we managed to pick up those documents for scrutiny”.

Leposa’s secretary-general Inspector Mphetho, who the police interrogated on Monday, said the raid lasted from 5pm to 7pm.
“We asked for their cooperation but they decided to scatter everything on the ground,” Insp Mphetho said. She said the raid is further evidence that the police management is hostile to Leposa.
The police, Inspector Mphetho said, ignored Leposa’s request to make a list of what they seized.
“Most of our documents were taken while others were left on the floor,” she said.

Insp Mphetho said some of the officers involved in the raid later came back to apologise.
She said without the computers and files, the association is unable to pay salaries to staff or funeral benefits under its burial society.
Commissioner Molibeli is pursuing the case with vigour, telling a press conference on Monday that he will not rest until every gun is accounted for.
“After engaging the auditors to investigate the scheme we found out that 159 guns were unaccounted for,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
“As police management, we are responsible for public safety.”
“Leposa never reported such guns missing to the management as they should have.”

He said last Friday they decided to pressure Leposa to give answers by arresting its president, Senior Inspector Modia.
“He is here helping the investigators with information on where those guns are.”
Commissioner Molibeli appealed to those who bought guns from Leposa or its members to bring them to the police “not because we want to take them away from them, we just want them to be accounted for”.
“We just need to have that data,” he said, adding that the “159 missing guns put Basotho lives at risk.

The investigation comes as the fight between the commissioner and the association has intensified.
Leposa wants Commissioner Molibeli fired for allegedly failing to manage the police and curb the scourge of violence in the country.
The commissioner has said those accusations are not only false but also show that Leposa is playing politics.
Last week when the theft of guns in Mafeteng made headlines Leposa blamed Commissioner Molibeli and called for his immediate dismissal.
Yet the association itself is under investigation for failing to account for 159 guns.

Nkheli Liphoto

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