Thabane overturns cop’s ‘forced’ leave
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has overturned a controversial decision by Acting Police Commissioner Masupha Masupha to send a top police officer investigating several high profile corruption cases on forced leave pending retirement from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).
Dr Thabane said such a critical decision should not have been made without his knowledge as he is also the Minister of Police. The premier accused Commissioner Masupha of “ill advising himself” in the decision to send the top cop on forced leave.
Commissioner Masupha delivered a letter to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sello Mosili on Tuesday 6 January 2015 telling him to go on leave the next day from the 7th of January till 27 January 2015, upon which he would be retired from the police after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 55.
But ACP Mosili, who heads the vital Crime Intelligence Unit of the LMPS, queried the move saying the entire decision by Commissioner Masupha was unprocedural and irregular. He contends that because of his seniority, he should have been given three months’ notice for retirement.
ACP Mosili is the lead investigator into the January 2014 bombings of the residences of Prime Minister Thabane’s partner, Liabiloe Ramoholi, her neighbour and Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.
The bombings and the subsequent failure by fired Lesotho Defence Force commander Tlali Kamoli to surrender eight soldiers suspected of having masterminded the attacks led to the deep rifts be- tween the LMPS and the LDF and the events of 30 August 2014 that plunged Lesotho into crisis after the soldiers raided several police stations in what Dr Thabane described as an attempted putsch.
ACP Mosili became the lead investigator into the treason charges against high ranking politicians and army officers implicated in the August 30 coup bid.
He is also in charge of investigations into various high profile corruption cases including one in which Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is accused of receiving kickbacks in exchange for a roads construction tender awarded to a company called Big Bravo Construction.
ACP Mosili told the Lesotho Times the leave letter, which ordered him to vacate office immediately, had come came as a shock to him.
“The letter said on January 27 2015, I would be effectively on retirement from the police service. Under normal circumstances I should have been given three months’ notice of the retirement so that I can prepare myself properly,” ACP Mosili said.
“It is surprising that a search for dockets in my office while I was not there was followed by this rushed decision sending me on leave….,” ACP Mosili said.
However, Dr Thabane has since moved swiftly to overturn Commissioner Masupha’s decision. The premier said he had not been informed and should have been consulted to endorse a decision relating to the fate of such a high ranking LMPS officer. Dr Thabane told the Lesotho Times yesterday he had reversed the decision in his capacity as both Prime Minister and Minister of Police.
“As we speak, that man (ACP Mosili) is not on forced leave anymore. Someone wanted to sent him on a forced leave but I corrected that. The Commissioner had ill-advised himself and I have overturned that decision,” Dr Thabane said.
Dr Thabane said he had not extracted any compelling reasons to send ACP Mosili on leave when he contacted Commissioner Masupha over the matter.
The Premier said Commissioner Masupha had also bungled procedures on how a high ranking police officer of ACP Mosili’s calibre should be sent on such a leave.
“The proper procedures had not been properly followed. Everything should have been done in consultations with me as the police minister. All matters at that level should be through me. His (Masupha’s) reasons did not convince me at all,” said Dr Thabane.
Dr Thabane said he was also irked that Commissioner Masupha had made an announcement on ACP Mosili’s fate without informing him.
“He can fire a private without telling me, and maybe report to me in some weeks’ time. However for a case of an officer like ACP Mosili I should be consulted,” Dr Thabane said.
“I don’t question the position I have put Masupha to act in, however I am merely correcting a mistake, an ill-informed decision. It was an unjust decision that had to be corrected…. I have always been a champion of the rights of the mar- ginalised and won’t tolerate unjust decisions against anyone, hence my continued fight against injustice.”
Dr Thabane’s coalition government partner and Sports and Gender Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane has, meanwhile, called for a probe into the actions of Commissioner Masupha. He attributed the “bad decision” to the high profile cases ACP Mosili has been investigating.
He took a swipe at Commissioner Masupha saying “Ntate Masupha should have consulted with the minister (Dr Thabane) before sending such a high performing and high ranking officer on forced leave.
“There should actually be an inquest into why Acting Commissioner Masupha did not consult his superiors before sending ACP Mosili on forced leave,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
He said the widespread distrust that had led to the collapse of relations among coalition government partners was partly due to conflicts over the hard work of ACP Mosili in trying to investigate and nail corrupt people. Some in the coalition government had never acknowledged ACP Mosili’s effort. Attempts to get hold of Acting Commissioner Masupha were fruitless.
Commissioner Masupha was elevated to temporarily head the LMPS after a security accord brokered by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in which the deputies in the LMPS and LDF were asked to take charge of both security organs while their superiors were sent on sabbaticals. While Commissioner Tšooana is said to be loyal to Dr Thabane, Commissioner Masupha has been dogged by allegations that he is loyal to the premier’s adversaries.
Acting Police Commissioner Masupha Masupha
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane