Cops snub peace march over raid
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.