Fugitive police officer fires back

Fugitive police officer fires back

MASERU – A senior police officer who fled into exile and is now being blamed for shady deals involving tenders in the force has accused the Commissioner Holomo Molibeli of using him as a scapegoat to dodge responsibility. Senior Superintendent Lebohang Setsomi has been holed up in South Africa since alleging that his life is in danger.

But controversy has continued to stalk him even as he hides in South Africa.
In recent weeks the police have told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings that Setsomi is at the centre of most of the stinking tender deals in the police force.
A senior procurement officer before he fled, Setsomi has become the police’s ‘fall guy’ in most fishy transactions being probed by the PAC.
One of those is the controversial police uniform tender awarded to two companies that are said to have been linked to politicians and lacked experience.
Setsomi has largely shied away from the media since he skipped the country last August.

The allegations made against him at the PAC have however prodded him to speak out.
He told thepost in an exclusive interview that his troubles are because Commissioner Molibeli holds a long-standing grudge against him.
He said their differences date as far back as 2015 before general elections while they were at the Police Training College when Commissioner Molibeli, then a senior superintendent, said he did not recognise Mothetjoa Metsing as the legitimate deputy prime minister.

Setsomi said he was the only officer who told Commissioner Molibeli, in his face, that he should give Metsing his due respect as the deputy prime minister.
“Reliable sources informed me that Compol Holomo (Molibeli) said l did not respect him.”
Setsomi said relations further frayed when he challenged the police’s decision to reverse promotions done a day after last year’s election.
The then Commissioner of Police, Molahlehi Letsoepa, had promoted more than 30 police officers on June 4, just a day after a parliamentary election that saw former premier Pakalitha Mosisili ousted from power.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government reversed the promotions and put Letsoepa on a 90-day leave.
“My sources informed me that this further infuriated the Compol (Molibeli) saying I did not show respect to him,” Setsomi said.
He said on July 18 last year Inspector Lerato Motseki was called by Commissioner Molibeli who handed her to a group of police officers who brutally assaulted her.
She was grilled about a Facebook account of one Tumelo Nthatakane. The account, according to Setsomi, purported to expose how Lipolelo Thabane was killed.
He said several sources told him that he was on the list of those to be interrogated. Setsomi said during the interrogation Inspector Motseki was coerced to implicate him as the owner of the Tumelo Nthatakane Facebook account.

“It is for this reason that I fled the country.”
He said he was reliably informed that he was going to be tortured to implicate political leaders.
Setsomi said the allegations that he rigged tenders indicate that the commissioner is still pursuing him.

“I am away from my family, I am not working now but Compol Holomo (Molibeli) is still after me,” he said.
Setsomi told thepost that he received video clips with allegations that he fled the country because he was involved in the fraudulent awarding of police uniform tender.
“It says I have also skipped the country because I did not want to account for a door worth M82 000,” he said.
The video clips were from a PAC hearing

He said as soon as he fled the country Commissioner Molibeli “moved around telling police that I fled because I had siphoned M8 million” from the police.
He said today Commissioner Molibeli has changed his story saying he has skipped the country because he had a hand in the awarding of controversial police uniform tender.
Setsomi said the tender is already being investigated by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).
“This case took two forms, civil and criminal,” he said.

He said he headed a team that evaluated tenders and the tender panel.
“Tenders are opened on the announced day and minutes are made. Once tenders are opened, we evaluate them and report to the PS.”
The tender panel is headed by the Principal Secretary of the ministry.

He said after they present their evaluation report the final decision on who gets the tender is made by the PS and the tender panel.
The allegations that he was corruptly parceling out the tenders are therefore a smear campaign to taint his character, Setsomi said.
He said the PAC should ask for minutes that will give a clear picture of what really happened.

“It is surprising that a person who only recommends could be blamed for being influential in the award of tender.”
He told thepost that he believes that commissioner wants to see him “dead or imprisoned”.
Asked for comment, Commissioner Molibeli said: “Let him come back so that he appears before the PAC and answer.”
“I do not have anything against him. Let him come and answer for his deeds.”

Majara Molupe

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