Cops snub peace march over raid

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote and Keiso Mohloboli

SOMe po­lice of­fi­cers de­cided to stay away from yes­ter­day’s sol­i­dar­ity march with the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) as they still feel bit­ter about an army raid on three Maseru po­lice sta­tions in the early hours of 30 Au­gust 2014, the Le­sotho Times was told.

The raid on Mabote and Maseru Cen­tral po­lice sta­tions and Po­lice Head­quar­ters, which Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane later claimed was part of a plot to top­ple his gov­ern­ment, left one sub-in­spec­tor dead and paral­ysed po­lice op­er­a­tions coun­try­wide for five con­sec­u­tive days.

Re­la­tions be­tween the army and po­lice had re­mained strained since that raid, hence yes­ter­day’s march to en­sure the restora­tion of trust.

“We can­not just pre­tend to go on as if noth­ing tragic hap­pened,” said one of the ag­grieved of­fi­cers. “Some of us, and I know there was quite a num­ber of us, de­cided not to at­tend the march be­cause we are still in pain fol­low­ing that raid.”

How­ever, de­spite the po­lice snub, the march went ahead as planned from Mabote Po­lice Sta­tion, start­ing at around 7 am and end­ing at Ratjo­mose Mil­i­tary Bar­racks, amid cheers from on­look­ers. LDF Act­ing Com­man­der, Ma­jor gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo, and Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) Act­ing Com­mis­sioner Ma­supha Ma­supha, led the pro­ces­sion in a rare show of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the agen­cies.

Po­lice Spokesper­son, Le­bona Mohloboli told the Le­sotho Times that the march was a clear sign that re­la­tions be­tween the LDF and LMPS were on the mend fol­low­ing weeks of ten­sion, which prompted the sign­ing of the Maseru Se­cu­rity Ac­cord (MSA) on 23 Oc­to­ber 2014.

The MSA com­pelled fired LDF com­man­der Liu­tenant gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, his suc­ces­sor Lt gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, and Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana to go to an African or Com­mon­wealth coun­try on leave of ab­sence, to al­low the restora­tion of cor­dial re­la­tions be­tween the two feud­ing se­cu­rity agen­cies.

Ac­cord­ing to Se­nior in­spec­tor Mohloboli, the march was a re­sound­ing suc­cess and should mark the be­gin­ning of a new era of friend­ship be­tween the LDF and LMPS.

“First of all, the po­lice did not snub the march; most of them were not in uni­form be­cause some are still wait­ing for the sup­ply of their new uni­form so they de­cided to come in civil­ian clothes. The bot­tom line is the march was a re­sound­ing suc­cess and was the sec­ond such co­op­er­a­tion fol­low­ing last Fri­day’s meet­ing we jointly held with the army at the Po­lice Train­ing Col­lege.

“Dur­ing the meet­ing, we dis­cussed the coun­try’s se­cu­rity is­sues and how we can mend re­la­tions be­tween our two agen­cies. This was just the lev­el­ling of the play­ing field; we are go­ing to be hav­ing more joint ac­tiv­i­ties with the LDF through­out the coun­try,” said Se­nior in­spec­tor Mohloboli.

Mean­while, in his ad­dress to the LDF and LMPS per­son­nel who took part in the march, Act­ing Com­mis­sioner (AC) Ma­supha is said to have em­pha­sised the need for the two se­cu­rity agen­cies to re­alise their re­spec­tive roles in en­sur­ing peace in Le­sotho.

The me­dia was barred from at­tend­ing the end-of-march ad­dress but ac­cord­ing to some of the LDF and LMPS mem­bers who at­tended the meet­ing, AC Ma­supha said it was im­por­tant for the two agen­cies to know their re­spec­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with­out in­trud­ing into each other’s ter­ri­tory.

“Ntate Ma­supha spoke strongly to us about dis­tin­guish­ing our func­tions as the po­lice and army. He em­pha­sised that we have dif­fer­ent and spe­cific roles to play, although all of them are aimed at en­sur­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in our coun­try.

“He said we will be able to re­late to each other bet­ter if we un­der­stand our roles and func­tions as dif­fer­ent but com­ple­men­tary se­cu­rity agen­cies,” one of the sources said.

Ma­jor gen­eral Motšo­motšo is also said to have echoed AC Ma­supha’s sen­ti­ments.

“Ma­jor gen­eral Motšo­motšo also said the joint march was the be­gin­ning of many more joint ac­tiv­i­ties in­tended to re­store har­mony be­tween the army and po­lice,” the source added.

Po­lice and sol­diers march­ing in uni­son as they sang the na­tional an­them and other songs yes­ter­day.

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