Police minister grilled

Police minister grilled

MASERU-POLICE Minister ’Mamoipone Senauoane came under a barrage of criticism in Parliament on Monday after the police shot and injured protesting youths last Friday.
The MPs appeared peeved by Senauoane’s attempt to justify the police’s heavy-handed reaction to the protesters who gathered at the parliament’s gates to demand jobs and an end to other injustices.

The minister said the youths did not have a permit to march and therefore violated the Meetings and Processions Act of 2010.
She also said the youths broke the Covid-19 Regulations that prohibit huge crowds and makes it mandatory for people to wear masks in public.
“The 2010 Act says anyone who wants to hold a procession must do so with a permit from the District Police Officer at least seven days prior,” she said.

“Here there was no such application to the police therefore the procession was unlawful,” she said, insisting that the government “believes in the rule of law according to the Constitution”
“The law must be respected by all at all times.”
She said the police ordered the youths to disperse but they refused.
“The police then arrested 11 of them, seven males and four females between the ages of 22 and 29 years.”

They appeared before the Maseru magistrate’s court on Monday.
“I appeal with the entire country to abide by the law and the Covid-19 regulations.”
MPs however came down hard on the minister for allowing the police to “unleash their anger on the youths who were holding a peaceful march”.
Former Development Planning Minister Tlohelang Aumane demanded that Senauoane tell Parliament how many people were injured during the protest.

Aumane also demanded legal or disciplinary action against the police who fired rubber bullets at the protesters.
Senauoane however said “no one went to a hospital and was proven to have been injured”.

thepost witnessed police officers firing at the protesters at the parliament gate as they walked away after they were denied entry. They were shot from behind and some got injured.
Ntsoaki Motaung, a journalist who was injured, saw a doctor.
The deputy leader for the Movement for Economic Change (MEC), Tšepang Tšita-Mosena, asked why some journalists were arrested while reporting on the event.

“There are still places where people gather in numbers but are never treated like these youths,” Tšita-Mosena said.
Senauoane replied that “all those arrested no matter where they come from will appear in courts therefore their issues will be clarified there”.
Thuso Litjobo, spokesman for the Alliance of Democrats (AD) who is also an MP, was arrested while receiving the youths’ petition. He was later released.
“Why did the police shoot the youths who had come to seek intervention from us, the people they voted for?” Litjobo asked the minister.
“Were they supposed to be killed just because they did not have that permit?”

The MP for Qoaling, Chalane Phori, said the government is selectively enforcing Covid-19 regulations.
“When the Kolo constituency MP was going to be buried there were countless people and the Deputy Prime Minister was there,” Phori said.
They said when the Ministry of Home Affairs was recruiting for the National Identity and Civil Registration hundreds of jobseekers gathered at government offices across the country but they were never dispersed.
“No one of them was shot at,” Phori said.

He also said the police also allowed a huge crowd to gather at its offices when it was recruiting trainees.
Among the arrested was the 357 FM presenter, Relebohile Moyeye, who was arrested next to the Lesotho Bank Tower for allegedly not wearing a mask.

Nkheli Liphoto

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