THE Lesotho Police Mounted Police Service Staff Association (LEPOSA) has demanded that Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli defers the opening of an "inhabitable" police post in Ha-Palima, Leribe, until it has been renovated to make it fit for human occupation. LEPOSA says it will not hesitate to sue Commissioner Molibeli if he does not yield to its demands.
LEPOSA Secretary General, Moraleli Motloli, this week wrote to Commissioner Molibeli, demanding that he defers the opening of the police post to enable the police force to upgrade the place before he and four other police officers who have been transferred to Leribe can move in.
The four other officers who have been transferred to Leribe have only been identified as Police Constables Ntsoele, Lefu, Nhlapho and Ntšeuoa. Although the transfer is with effect from 9 November 2020, the five are yet to report to their new work station.
This after LEPOSA argued that the police post was not conducive for human habitation because it lacks offices and decent accommodation for the officers.
Photos of the new police post sent by LEPOSA to this publication show that it comprises of two huts built of stones and corrugated iron. One of the huts' roof is showing signs of obvious wear. The doors of both huts appear in need of replacement.
In his 17 November 2020 letter to Commissioner Molibeli, Sub-Inspector Motloli says "the projected police post falls short of the requirements for police post (sic)".
"Our research, has established that the said post is not conducive for human habitation. There are no offices to work in (and) there are no proper housing facilities for the transferred officers.
"On the basis of the foregoing, we plead with your good office to defer the opening of the police post until the above issues and any other essentials are met so that the basic human needs are met. We find this very fundamental for good service delivery and human rights of the police officers transferred there.
"... If your good office persists on the opening of this inhabitable place, we will without doubt approach the courts of law for alternative relief," Sub-Insp Motloli states.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Commissioner Molibeli said he had not seen the LEPOSA letter.
"Oh, there is such a letter? I have not seen it. I will look for it tomorrow when I get to the office. Yes, we have already opened the police post at Ha-Palama, it was officially launched by the Minister of Police ('Mamoipone Senauoane) in the presence of a many villagers there. The police post will serve villagers who walked long distances to get police services from Ha-Lejone and we are told that elderly people were forced to sleep at Ha-Lejone just to get a police stamp.
"Yes, it is true that officers posted there will use the two huts and a single room. That is how people live at Ha-Palima and those people deserve police services. This is the oath that we took as police officers, to serve the people regardless of the location and officers posted there will have to acclimatise with the living conditions in that area. There is nothing strange about that post. We have had worse police stations like Ha-Simione and Ketane but with time the situation improved," Commissioner Molibeli said.
He said the police had already been allocated a site to build a proper structure in the near future. He said the police management decided to open the police post after All Basotho Convention (ABC) Legislator for Mantšonyane, Nto Moakhi pleaded the Ha-Palama people's case.
"Basotho deserve access to police service whatever their location is. Imagine if a young girl, staying with her grandmother, is raped and they have to travel such a long distance just for a medical form. Those who are complaining about the posting of officers at the Ha-Palama post have started complaining just too early. We have to serve the people," Commissioner Molibeli said.
LEPOSA's threats to sue Commissioner Molibeli are the latest instalment in the militant police union's long-running war with the police command.
Just last week, LEPOSA wrote to Police and Public Safety Minister, 'Mamoipone Senauoane, requesting that she orders Commissioner Molibeli to suspend Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Paseka Mokete pending the finalisation of his criminal case for sexual assault.
DCP Mokete is charged "with a sexual offence" after he allegedly touched the buttocks of Inspector 'Makatleho Mphetho near the parliament building in Maseru without her consent on 29 April 2020.
He is also charged with assault after he "unlawfully and intentionally" assaulted Inspector Mphetho by pulling and dragging her on the ground. He is further charged with "malicious damage" after he allegedly tore the pair of trousers Inspector Mphetho was wearing when the sexual offence was allegedly committed.
DCP Mokete first appeared in court on 13 July 2020 where he was charged and released on free bail by Magistrate Senekal Qobolo. His case is still pending before Senior Resident Magistrate Phethise Motanyane.
LEPOSA has also petitioned Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to fire Commissioner Molibeli over what the police union views as his bias and ineptitude in handling police grievances.
LEPOSA alleges that since taking charge in August 2017, Commissioner Molibeli has been a very incompetent police boss. They accuse him of favoritism, among other things, citing his "unprocedural" promotion of his "blue eyed boys" like DCP Paseka Mokete and Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Beleme Lebajoa.
LEPOSA also accuses him of failing to deal decisively with the thorny issue of police brutality. Commissioner Molibeli has however, fought back by invoking section 31(1) (i) of the Police Act in a bid to dismiss LEPOSA officers including Inspector Motloli for insubordination and allegedly tarnishing the image of the police force. The two sides have filed applications and counter-applications against each other which are pending in the courts of law.