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Judge warns Thabane



MASERU-A HIGH court judge has warned Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government of the potential danger of treating Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli’s case lightly.
Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi issued the stern warning yesterday afternoon during a case in which Commissioner Molibeli is challenging Thabane’s decision to send him on early retirement over a battery of allegations.

Justice Monaphathi was left fuming after Thabane’s legal team failed to file their answering affidavit despite requesting an additional 48 hours to do so.
The judge seemed irritated when the government’s lawyers said they wanted an additional day to allow the Prime Minister to file his affidavit.
He said the case was supposed to have been argued on Monday afternoon but had to be postponed to yesterday to give the Prime Minister time to file his answering affidavits.
“This is a national issue which concerns stability and army men, but the way the Attorney General and his office have taken it for granted it’s as if it’s just a case,” Justice Monaphathi said.
“I won’t take it lightly that the Government did not file their answering affidavit, they have more power than every institution in this country.”

He said everyone could see that this is a “highly sensitive and dangerous matter”.
“We have so many blind people in this country who may not see the sensitiveness of this case.”
The judge said it is unacceptable that the government’s team was now claiming that it did not have time to file the affidavit when it had access to every court document relating to the matter.
He said he was disappointed by the Attorney General’s office.

“I am more concerned about the way the Attorney General and officers work. This is a dangerous case and the court does not want to be seen as compromised, we want the matter complete.”
“What the court requires is to see this case proceeding. It is not our business to know why Molibeli was suspended but he came here for justice so we have to offer it at its best.”
The case, the judged added, has not only affected the commissioner but also his family that wants it to be resolved quickly.
“It might happen that the Prime Minister suspended him correctly due to his actions but that does not concern us, all what matters is he ran to the court seeking justice.”

He said the government’s pleas to postpone the matter were inflicting more pain on Commissioner Molibeli.
“I suspect everyone who is expelled from his office feels pain and what Molibeli did is correct to run to the courts as he gave a good example to others that being suspended without reason is not a good thing,” he said.

“It is not fair to the court that today when we are supposed to continue then you say you have not filed the replying affidavit because you had no time.”
Justice Monaphathi postponed the case to this afternoon (Thursday).
Commissioner Molibeli was first sent on a 60-day forced leave on January 2 and he responded by filing an urgent application blocking the move. On January 3 the High Court granted an interim order allowing him to remain in office until January 6.

Then on January 5 he discovered another letter informing him that Thabane was considering advising the King to “require” him to retire over charges of misconduct.
“It should be an obvious thing that your conduct in question has grave potential to have a negative bearing on the performance of your duties and discharge of responsibilities as the overall operational commander of the Lesotho Police Service,” said the letter.

The letter gave him seven days to give reasons why the Prime Minister could not advise the King to retire him.
It said the commissioner was being suspended for 60 days pending an investigation into his fitness to hold office. The suspension was with immediate effect and restricted him from “interfering with the entire police service”.

In his urgent application Commissioner Molibeli argues that the Prime Minister does not have the authority or power to suspend him.
That authority and power, he says, lies with the King as the appointing authority.
He alleges that Prime Minister acted “without legal authority, abused his power, and in a naked show of disrespect to the rule of law and due process…”
He further argues that Thabane acted to undermine not only the independence of the LMPS but also the Police Authority.

Itumeleng Khoete

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Police hunt former minister



THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss



A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race



THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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