Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has no basis to suspend Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli for alleged perjury in a case concerning the transfer of a junior police officer from Maseru to Qacha's Nek.
This after it emerged that the High Court affidavit containing Commissioner Molibeli's alleged misrepresentations is not authentic as it does not bear the top cop's signature nor is it stamped by a commissioner of oaths.
Mr Thabane and Commissioner Molibeli are involved in a long-running feud which has seen the premier unsuccessfully seek to oust the latter on several occasions since the beginning of the year. Undaunted by his previous court failures, the premier launched his latest bid to suspend Commissioner Molibeli on 15 April 2020.
He wrote to the police boss asking him to "show cause" why he should not suspend him to facilitate investigations after a case of perjury was filed against him by one of his subordinates, Senior Inspector Haleeo Leluma, last year.
Snr Insp Leluma wrote to Police and Public Safety Minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, on 1 April 2020 accusing Commissioner Molibeli of making false claims in his answering affidavit in the case which he filed to stop the top cop from transferring him from Maseru to Qacha's Nek.
"I have taken a decision to press charges against the commissioner of police... ," Snr Insp Leluma states in his letter to Mr Moramotse.
"False statements were made in a civil case where I, Snr Insp Leluma and the commissioner of police are the parties.
"It is my sincere hope that you shall come to my rescue and that the rule of law prevails... I hope I shall enjoy protection of the law under your stewardship," Snr Insp Leluma further states.
Mr Thabane then used Snr Insp Leluma's cryptic letter as the basis for seeking the commissioner's suspension for the alleged perjury.
In his 15 April 2020 "show cause" letter to Commissioner Molibeli, the premier said he had been made aware of the alleged perjury.
It was alleged Commissioner Molibeli had sought to transfer Snr Insp Leluma from Maseru to Qacha's Nek on the basis that there had been only one senior officer responsible for that district.
But Mr Thabane said he had been advised that Commissioner Molibeli's claims were false because there were instead three senior officers at the level of senior superintendent and two senior inspectors in Qacha's Nek.
"I have considered this matter and taken a view that... it will be in the interests of justice that investigations into this matter are conducted fairly and objectively. It follows therefore that it cannot be fair and right that you remain in office while criminal investigations are conducted against you by your subordinates.
"With the purpose of facilitating thorough investigations and in the interest of justice, I consider that you should be on suspension. I therefore intend to exercise my powers to suspend you pending finalisation of the criminal investigations (of perjury)," Mr Thabane wrote.
But in a new turn of events this week, the assistant registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Advocate Mosito Rabotsoa, wrote a report saying the affidavit containing Commissioner Molibeli's alleged falsehoods is not authentic.
In the report prepared for the High Court's consideration and seen by the Lesotho Times this week, Adv Rabotsoa states that the affidavit is not signed by Commissioner Molibeli. He further states that it had not been stamped by a commissioner of oaths as per requirements.
"On the 23 April 2019 an urgent application was filed by one Advocate Pheko on behalf of Mr Haleeo Leluma. The case was allocated its identification case number as CIV/APN/129/19...
"On 6 May 2019, the answering 'affidavit' was filed together with its annexures. This answering 'affidavit' is not signed or deposed to by the deponent and it is not dated by the commissioner of oaths. However, it bears a signature of the commissioner (of oaths) without designation and the area in respect of which he holds his appointment," part of Adv Rabotsoa's report states.
Adv Rabotsoa uses quotes in reference to the affidavit suggesting that it is not authentic. This suggests that Mr Thabane has no basis to suspend Police Commissioner Molibeli for allegedly submitting an affidavit containing false information as there is no signature to prove that the affidavit in question is indeed his.
The top cop has already denied making false statements in connection with Snr Insp Leluma's proposed transfer.
In his court papers, Commissioner Molibeli instead accuses Mr Thabane of seeking to oust him to pave way for his replacement by a pliant officer who would save the premier from being prosecuted for the June 2017 murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane.
High Court Judge Semapo Peete had already granted an interim order barring Mr Thabane from suspending Commissioner Molibeli until his main application to stop his suspension has been finalised. The application will be heard by a panel of three judges on a date yet to be set.