…says officers who violate human rights will be prosecuted
MASERU – “A violent society breeds a violent police service.” Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli (Pictured)said this on Tuesday while responding to allegations of police brutality.
Commissioner Molibeli was speaking at the virtual signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sesotho Media and Development and She-Hive Association.
Sesotho Media and Development is a media-based human rights organisation implementing programmes reaching out to a wide range of audiences through film screenings. She-Hive is an association founded by survivors of domestic violence to provide therapy to children who experienced violence at home.
Under the MoU, the police, Sesotho Media and She-Hive will embark on an anti-gender-based violence campaign supported by the European Union (EU) to the tune of Euro 750 000 (about M12.7 million) between 2021 to 2025.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Commissioner Molibeli urged the media to treat the police fairly.
He said the partnership will help improve police services, while also working to eradicate domestic violence.
“I am worried by the way the media handle the issue of police brutality. It is not a political tool and it shouldn’t be,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
“We have to make sure that we deal with this matter decisively.”
He assured stakeholders that the police are “highly committed and disciplined”.
“We will do as required and even go beyond expectations. We have a lot of LMPS members who are dedicated and disciplined.”
“I am happy that once the project is completed, we will leave capacitated officers as far as human rights are concerned.”
He said they have seen the need to reform, capacitate officers and raise awareness even to the public so that they can report cases of human rights.
“We will be very careful not to trample on their rights once they know. We are committed to ensuring no abuse in our daily duties as we are aware that only courts are in a position to punish suspects.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police Sera Makharilele said they are mandated to uphold and not abuse the law.
“We can’t do that on our own hence the need for collaboration between the public and other stakeholders,” DCP Makharilele said.
He said the project came “at the right time to the right people”.
“It came at the right time when the public complained about human rights violations. The project will help us find a solution. It will indeed help us in police reforms processes,” he said.
’Mamolefe Petlane, the Executive Director of Sesotho Media and Development who is also the director of the programme, said Lesotho has ratified many United Nations Human Rights Conventions and thus has made binding international commitments.
“Our constitution and relevant supporting legislation and the systems of the judiciary and law enforcement have all been set up to protect the rights, well-being, dignity, and lives of Basotho,” Petlane said.
She said Lesotho has laws and a judicial system to protect people from human rights abuses but the implementation of such laws was lacking.
“Our human rights situation has been of critical concern to us as Basotho, to our partners, friends in the region, continent and from abroad,” she said.
A 2018 Afro-Barometer survey, she said, revealed that most Basotho are concerned about police brutality, which is perceived as a serious problem in the country.
“The survey found that two-thirds of Basotho say some police members routinely abuse or torture people in their custody. This takes away the slogan ‘Lepolesa Mothusi Motsoalle (A police a helper, a friend)’,” she said.
In 2020, following a public call by the European Union (EU) seeking to promote human rights and support civil society organisations as actors of governance and development, Sesotho Media in association with She-Hive approached Commissioner Molibeli to discuss the challenge of human rights violations by the police.
During these consultations a consensus was reached on the urgent need for a concerted effort to bring together the police, civil society, the media and the general public to strategically address this challenge.
Petlane said further consultations were done with representatives of various sectors, echoing the need for participatory platforms to break the silence around this challenge and empower communities and LMPS to mobilise and engage in dialogue around these issues.
The programme, which Petlane launched on Tuesday, is called The Accountability and Capacity Building Initiative by Lesotho CSOs.
The programme aims to bring together the police, civil society and the public for the realization of human rights compliance by the police.
“As we sign this milestone MoU with the LMPS, we are privileged as SM&D, to be representing the collective will and interests of our partners, CSOs, media, the public including all minority groups,” Petlane said.
“This is a project for Basotho, seeking to provide a grassroots-led solution to the human rights challenge.”
“The train is ready to leave the station, join us as we journey together towards the realization of human rights compliance by the LMPS.”
RFP douses fires
MASERU – THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) was thrown into a fire-fighting mode this week after disgruntled party members protested over the party’s “undemocratic practices” in picking election candidates.
The members who won primary elections to stand for the party in the October 7 general elections were however blocked by the party’s leadership, torching protests by the grassroots supporters.
The group says it now wants party leader, Sam Matekane, to explain the criteria used to pick election candidates.
In defending the process, the RFP has argued that it picked the candidates on the basis of meritocracy insisting these were the best qualified candidates for the constituencies, an argument the group says lacks transparency.
Shortly after the party’s secretary general, Nthati Moorosi, announced the list of the chosen ones last week, scores of RFP members flocked the party offices demanding answers why their elected candidates were left out.
On Tuesday morning, the RFP went all out to reassure the disgruntled members that they were still valued members of the party. thepost understands that the party held a counselling session with the group.
However, a few hours later the group held a press conference in Maseru where they said even though they still supported the party all they wanted was transparency.
The disgruntled members are ’Mampho Seutloali from Stadium Area, Monohi Ralentsoe from Makhaleng, Chopho Lekhoabane from Khafung, Morakane Monate from Hlotse, Kobeli Rethabile Letlailane from Lithoteng, Thabo Moloi from Machache, Mahali Phamotse from Matlakeng and ‘Mamako Mohale-Lerata from Matelile.
The group said Matekane should explain the criteria the party used to pick candidates. Earlier the party had said the candidates would be selected based on their educational backgrounds, business successes or other social achievements in their communities.
Most of all these people Matekane left out have solid academic credentials and are successful in other sectors of society. Letlailane, reading their joint statement at the press conference, said they are demanding the document drafted by their leader while shortlisting the candidates.
“We believe that these documents are the only ones that can end the outcry that is coming from members who elected us in the constituencies,” Letlailane said.
“Members are worried that the results do not have transparency. This has caused loss of members in some constituencies,” he said, adding that some had already started re-joining parties they had defected from.
He said they wanted Matekane to give them answers so that they could go back and convince members that all is still well in the party. He said the documents would allay the fears of the people in the party.
“We aim to help our party to stop losing members on account of this,” he said.
Letlailana got 28 votes but Matekane picked Siera Letsoela who got only 12 votes. Phamotse received a stunning 96 votes but the party picked a relatively unknown Kenny Ntoane who only got 10 votes.
Letlailane said the RFP should be a beacon of transparency because many people had left their parties to join it because they were not transparent.
“The people are asking the RFP to live by what it preaches.”
He stated that most of the candidates who won primary elections but were not chosen do not want to defect together with the people in the constituencies who have started defecting.
“We aim to work hard to build this party, to get things right so that people do not leave,” he said.
He said their other aim is to prove to the nation and the people that the results were transparent. Dr Phamotse said by asking for the criteria “the angry people will understand and stop defecting”.
“We are helping by asking for accountability as there are some constituencies that have also launched similar complaints,” she said.
She said there are 30 aggrieved candidates who won primaries but were not picked to stand in their constituencies.
“They are not happy and we do not want them to leave,” she said.
Dr Phamotse said what makes matters worse is that members do not have the party constitution and they do not know if they have any legal basis to complain. The people, she said, base their decisions on democracy as they know it.
“We are representing others who are also not happy, especially those who won the primary elections.”
The Stadium Area primary election winner, ’Mampho Seutloali, said the candidates have huge supporters behind them.
“They are expecting to know what will be done as they voted for people and the party chose otherwise,” Seutloali said.
She stated that they had been negotiating with members not to defect.
“We are telling our people that the RFP is still powerful,” she said.
Matelile’s Mohale-Lerata said they signed a document to be members, therefore, they have a right to speak on matters affecting the RFP.
“But the constitution has not yet reached our constituencies,” Mohale-Lerata said.
A day earlier, Qacha’s Nek constituency members stormed the party premises demanding answers over the party’s undemocratic selection of candidates.
The members who had traveled from Qacha’s Nek to seek answers were not allowed to enter the office until around 4pm when a security guard finally let four of them in.
One of their representatives, Kokolia Mosothoane, told thepost that the leader chose ’Maatang Chaka who lost the primary elections.
“We demand to know how our leader picked this nobody, who stays in Maseru and knows nothing about us,” Mosothoane said.
“We will not tolerate this,” he said.
The members left the offices without answers.
On Sunday, the party co-founder Tlohang Sekhamane defended the party’s stance at a rally in Qeme constituency. Sekhamane said change is a beautiful thing as it goes along with developments.
“Change is not delicious on some people’s palates. We must embrace change,” Sekhamane said.
Sekhamane said Matekane has pointed out who should represent which constituency and “people lash at him for that”.
“That is why Lesotho is a poor country because we do not want to do the right things,” he said.
He said Matekane is doing what he knows by changing the ways things have been done in the country in the past.
He stated that Matekane wants to work with people he trusts the most.
“We thank you for allowing him to do so,” he said.
He said members “should change their old ways”.
“Stop believing that a parliament is an employment place where people go to eat with their families.”
He urged the members not to leave when unhappy because their party is doing this for their sake and the sake of the entire country.
“Matekane should be allowed to show and lead the way, he wants new things for your sake.”
Why Thabane case flopped
MASERU – THE murder case against former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his wife, ‘Maesaiah, collapsed this week because it hinges on the testimonies of four key witnesses the prosecution could not find. thepost can reveal that those witnesses have been playing ‘hide and seek’ with the prosecution for more than two years.
The police and the prosecution have so far failed to track down those witnesses, according to sources close to the case.
The four, who are Basotho based in South Africa, are said to be reluctant to give statements to the prosecution.
“They are not clearly saying that they don’t want to testify but they are always giving excuses,” said a source involved in the investigation.
thepost understands that attempts by the police to meet some of the suspects in South Africa last week failed.
“I am told one of them said he was rushing to Lesotho for an emergency. When the police came back to Lesotho, the witness said he was already back in South Africa.”
The source said two of the witnesses are famo music gang members that have information on the people who carried out the hit on Lipolelo Thabane.
The other two know how the murder was planned. Sources told thepost that for the past three weeks the police and the prosecution have been debating on how to proceed with the case against Thabane and his wife.
“We have some good information from the other 35 witnesses but the evidence from those four is crucial to this case.”
The source said the prosecution and the police have been racing against time to get the witnesses before the Thabanes’ legal team applies for the case to be dismissed due to lack of prosecution.
“They don’t know when those witnesses will be available. It’s not like those witnesses can be simply subpoenaed to give their statements,” the source said.
“The prosecution knew that the defence was now planning to apply for acquittal on the basis that the cases had been delayed for too long and the case against ‘Maesaiah is not proceeding.”
“If the prosecution had charged Thabane it meant he had to enter a plea and the case would have to proceed. But the trouble was that the prosecution is still struggling to get the four key witnesses.”
He said the withdrawal was the prosecution’s only option.
“It’s a strategic retreat rather than surrender. The charges have not been dropped so they can still be reinstated when the witnesses are available.”
There are however fears within the prosecution and the police that those witnesses might no longer be willing to testify and could disappear off the radar.
The police, another source said, are worried that those witnesses might be intimidated or induced to refuse to cooperate with the prosecution.
Two of ‘Maesaiah’s co-accused have died.
Molibeli in new bid to hold on to post
MASERU – COMMISSIONER of Police Holomo Molibeli says Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro no longer has the power nor mandate to advise the King to retire him. This is contained in a new application he filed in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
In the application, Commissioner Molibeli says the Prime Minister cannot advise the King to fire him after parliament was dissolved two weeks ago.
He argues that following the dissolution of parliament, Majoro has become a caretaker Prime Minister without powers to make any major decisions in the interim.
He said section 83 (7) of the Constitution of Lesotho says a Caretaker Prime Minister “is limited to maintaining the status quo existing before the dissolution” of the 10th Parliament.
Commissioner Molibeli pleaded with the court to order that Majoro’s advice to King Letsie III to retire him from the office “during the caretaker period be considered unconstitutional, null and void for being contrary to section 83(7) of the Constitution”.
He added that the court should “interdict and restrain the King from acting on any advice of the Prime Minister or having the effect of advising His Majesty to require” him to retire.
In his founding affidavit, Commissioner Molibeli said that when the 10th Parliament was dissolved on July 13, the government assumed the caretaker role and with effect from July 14, “the Prime Minister became a caretaker Prime Minister presiding over the caretaker government”.
“The Prime Minister during the caretaker period is constitutionally prohibited from, among others, removing or effecting changes to key positions as the heads of securities, the judiciary, other law enforcement agencies such as Lesotho Revenue Authority and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
“As the Commissioner of Police, I am the head of and superintend the LMPS and its operations in Lesotho,” he said.
He said the 9th Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits significant changes to key positions in the government “was inspired not only by the need to express the constitutional convention to that effect but also to specifically deal with the specific incidents influenced by collation politics since 2012”.
He said these are “matters of common knowledge and which the court is entitled to take judicial notice of”.
He said during the reforms process, the constituent popular sovereignty of the people of Lesotho was expressed in the Plenary II Report.
“There should be no appointments or removals to the heads of securities (LMPS, LDF and NSS) including the Commissioner of Police in the interim,” he said.
He emphasised that as the occupier of the office of the Commissioner since 2017, he is entitled to exercise and perform the functions of that office until otherwise removed by both the constitution and the law authorities.
“I have a right to prevent illegal and unconstitutional means of removing me from that office, and therefore to approach the court for purpose,” he said.
He said his dignity, reputation and self-worth are also derived from the performance of the functions of the office of the Commissioner of Police which he is currently holding.
“I have a right to prevent my unconstitutional and illegal removal from office,” he said.
He said the unconstitutional and illegal removal from office will cause irreparable harm not only to the integrity of the constitution, maintenance of the rule of law but will effectuate constitutional injustice to him and trample upon and render illusory and worthless his non-material rights.
RFP douses fires
Why Thabane case flopped
Molibeli in new bid to hold on to post
Makgothi, Sello will not seek re-election
Moleleki accuses DC of looting state resources
Rough ‘justice’ for Lipolelo
The battle over damaged houses
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Justice system in deep crisis
Literature and poesy
Prayer for the losers
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The RFP’s rough play
The scourge of early marriages
I made Matekane rich: Moleleki
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MP dumps party, joins Matekane
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Mofomobe attacks RFP
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Thabane And Wife Go Scott-Free
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COMPOL Holomo Molibeli loses yet another court battle
MISA Lesotho blasts parliament
Molibeli licks the dust
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