Tšooana blasts Mo­sisili

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice ser­vice (LMPS) Com­mis­sioner Khothatso tšooana ( pic­tured) has come out guns blaz­ing as he bat­tles to re­main at the helm of the se­cu­rity agency.

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili on 3 June 2015 wrote to Mr tšooana ask­ing him to “show cause” why he should not con­tinue with his in­ten­tion to ad­vice King Let­sie III to send him on early re­tire­ment.

In the let­ter signed by Govern­ment sec­re­tary Moahloli Mphaka, Dr Mo­sisili told Com­mis­sioner tšooana that it was no longer in the na­tional in­ter­est for him to re­main at the helm of the LMPS and should con­se­quently re­tire.

the Demo­cratic Congress ( DC) leader, who came to power as head of a seven-party govern­ment af­ter the 26 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions had re­sulted in a hung par­lia­ment, ac­cuses Com­mis­sioner tšooana of poor man­age­ment of the LMPS hence the of­fer of early re­tire­ment.

Com­mis­sioner tšooana had been given seven days to re­spond to the ul­ti­ma­tum and through a let­ter dated 8 June 2015, re­futes the premier’s al­le­ga­tions and main­tains he is an of­fi­cer who is only guided by ethics of his cho­sen pro­fes­sion.

the Com­mis­sioner, who was sent on spe­cial leave in Novem­ber 2014 at the height of a turf war be­tween the Le­sotho De­fence Force and LMPS with the move aimed at restor­ing cor­dial re­la­tions be­tween the two or­gan­i­sa­tions, writes in re­sponse to Dr Mo­sisili’s ac­cu­sa­tions of in­com­pe­tence and po­lar­is­ing the LMPS: “I have read the let­ter seek­ing to ac­cord me an op­por­tu­nity to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions be­fore a de­ci­sion could be made re­gard­ing my in­tended re­tire­ment.

“I should how­ever; point out that it is dis­heart­en­ing to ob­serve from the on­set that the Prime Min­is­ter seeks to give me an op­por­tu­nity to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions on the ba­sis of mon­i­tor­ing he did while he was the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.

“It would not be fair and rea­son­able to judge me from the point of view of an op­po­si­tion, hence the ob­ser­va­tion that since I re­sumed of­fice (in Jan­uary 2014), po­lice af­fairs have gone hor­ri­bly wrong, is vir­tu­ally wrong­ful and un­ten­able.

“I have ob­served again, with re­spect, that my as­sess­ment is largely based on wrong­ful as­sump­tions, per­cep­tions and me­dia re­ports. the as­sess­ment does not have, as its ba­sis, my per­for­mance ap­praisals or em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence in the form of crime sta­tis­tics re­ports, etc. I men­tion with re­spect that it is purely with­out foun­da­tion and or base­less.

“the po­lice, as an in­sti­tu­tion, is an­swer­able to the govern­ment of the day not the op­po­si­tion. With the great­est of re­spect, I am not privy to the stan­dards used by the op­po­si­tion to judge my per­for­mance and reach the con­clu­sion that it would not be in the in­ter­ests of the coun­try for me to con­tinue to hold of­fice. I, how­ever, hold a dif­fer­ent view and will ex­press strongly in the body of my let­ter in turn.”

Com­mis­sioner tšooana con­tin­ues: “I have at­tempted to an­swer the al­le­ga­tions meted out against me para­graph by para­graph, start­ing with is­sues per­tain­ing to the so-called politi­ci­sa­tion of the in­sti­tu­tion. May I point out at the out­set, that it has been dif­fi­cult, on my part, to re­spond is­suably to most of the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against me by the Prime Min­is­ter, inas­much as most of such al­le­ga­tions have not been sub­stan­ti­ated.

“I would, with ut­most re­spect, have ex­pected the Prime Min­is­ter to have placed be­fore me tan­gi­ble facts and or ev­i­dence (oral or doc­u­mented) so that I could re­act prop­erly to the same. It would thus be un­fair for the Prime Min­is­ter to pro­ceed to ad­vice the King to re­tire me from the Po­lice ser­vice on the ba­sis of such al­le­ga­tions.

“I should say it is un­for­tu­nate that the Prime Min­is­ter does not seem to have re­li­able in­for­ma­tion on the is­sue but re­lies on the mat­ter of ‘pub­lic knowl­edge’ that some high-rank­ing mem­bers of the ser­vice had of­ten de­clared their loy­alty to a po­lit­i­cal party in its po­lit­i­cal pur­suits, such as as­sist­ing it in its elec­toral cam­paigns.

“It would have been pru­dent to fur­nish the names of such mem­bers, the time and place where such pledges were made. I how­ever, want to place it on record that I have never heard of such pledges and that re­mains a ru­mour. I note with a sense of shock that the Prime Min­is­ter points out that he has been re­ceiv­ing sev­eral re­ports and that he has no rea­son to doubt their ve­rac­ity. Clearly, the Prime Min­ster has al­ready made up his mind in this re­gard with­out first af­ford­ing me an op­por­tu­nity to re­act to the same. this then raises doubt whether any rep­re­sen­ta­tions I make in this re­gard could in­flu­ence him oth­er­wise”.

the em­bat­tled LMPS boss also re­sponds to ac­cu­sa­tions that the po­lice is­sued sum­mons to Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing at Moshoeshoe I In­ter­na­tional Air­port last year to em­bar­rass him.

Ac­cord­ing to the Com­mis­sioner, he was glad Dr Mo­sisili “seems to be on the same page with the po­lice ser­vice that there is noth­ing wrong with the ser­vice of sum­mons which is what is im­por­tant.

“If I may add word to what has al­ready been said by the Prime Min- is­ter, the po­lice ser­vice, in ex­e­cu­tion of its man­date, ob­serves the con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ple that all are equal be­fore the law and are en­ti­tled to equal pro­tec­tion of the law.

“It is thus alarm­ing that the Prime Min­is­ter then pro­ceeds to con­clude that the strat­a­gem was to em­bar­rass and hu­mil­i­ate the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter to the max­i­mum im­pact pos­si­ble to sat­isfy po­lit­i­cal whim. For the record, may I em­pha­sise that the LMPS ex­e­cutes its law­ful man­date with­out fear or favour, and knows no dif­fer­ence be­tween a man in the street and govern­ment of­fi­cial, so long as it op­er­ates within the bound­aries of the law.

“In any event, I can bet that sus­pi­cion of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity will in­vari­ably em­bar­rass any­one, the only re­lief be­ing when they are ex­on­er­ated be­fore the courts of law”.

the Com­mis­sioner also denies be­ing in­flu­enced to ar­rest cur­rent Po­lice Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki through a speech made by Dr tha­bane at an ABC rally last year.

“In any event, what po­lit­i­cal lead­ers say in their po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings is the least of the con­cerns of the po­lice ser­vice, as long as it does not bor­der on crim­i­nal­ity. All I know is hon­ourable Moleleki was ap­pre­hended per the or­der of the court is­sued by Mag­is­trate ‘Makam­pong Mokhoro on 1 July 2013.

“May I bring to the at­ten­tion of the PM that hon Moleleki did chal­lenge the is­sue per­tain­ing to the le­gal­ity or oth­er­wise of his ap­pre­hen­sion be­fore the high Court and his case was dis­missed, even by the Court of Ap­peal. I have thus been ex­on­er­ated by the courts of law but if looked from the point of view of the Prime Min­is­ter while he was still in op­po­si­tion, the Prime Min­is­ter is un­likely to be con­vinced oth­er­wise”.

Com­mis­sioner tšooana also re­jected any blame for an­nounce­ments made over lo­cal ra­dio sta- tions re­gard­ing Mr Moleleki’s bank ac­counts, which are the sub­ject of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Direc­torate on Cor­rup­tion and eco­nomic of­fences.

“It seems that the Prime Min­is­ter’s rec­ol­lec­tion is not right even on this is­sue. the pro­nounce­ment re­gard­ing the bank ac­counts was made by Ma­supha Ma­supha while he was still Po­lice spokesper­son and the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice was Mr Kiz­ito Mh­lakaza at the time. “But if looked from the point of view of the Prime Min­is­ter while he was still in op­po­si­tion, I am wor­thy of blame even for things done by my pre­de­ces­sors. that goes to show the stan­dard used to mea­sure my per­for­mance; it is skewed and ex­tremely bi­ased.”

Com­mis­sioner tšooana again de­nied po­lar­is­ing the LMPS.

“I deny sow­ing seeds of con­fu­sion as al­leged but it would be pru­dent rather, to say that the seeds of con­fu­sion were sown by the ac­tion of ap­point­ing an Act­ing Com­mis­sioner to act in my po­si­tion while I am not in­ca­pac­i­tated and my of­fice not va­cant. that is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of sow­ing con­fu­sion, in­sta­bil­ity and dishar­mony within the po­lice ser­vice.

“I deny ever di­rect­ing the po­lice not to take in­struc­tion from Mr Keketso Mon­a­heng (LMPS Act­ing Com­mis­sioner). My per­for­mance has got noth­ing to do with Mr Mon­a­heng as he is my ju­nior in ser­vice and has to take or­ders from me. It is not the other way round as the Prime Min­is­ter seems to per­ceive”.

he also de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for sus­pects dy­ing while in po­lice cus­tody. Com­mis­sioner tšooana ar­gued sus­pects were dy­ing in var­i­ous po­lice sta­tions in the coun­try even dur­ing the 14 years Dr Mo­sisili was Min­is­ter of De­fence, Po­lice and Na­tional se­cu­rity “but did noth­ing about it”.

Dr Mo­sisili was Prime Min­is­ter as well as De­fence, Po­lice and Na­tional se­cu­rity min­is­ter be­tween 1998 and 2012. he quit the posts af­ter his DC failed to garner the re­quired ma­jor­ity seats in the 26 May 2012 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and was re­placed by Dr tha­bane’s tri­par­tite govern­ment.

Com­mis­sioner tšooana then cites some of the peo­ple who died while in po­lice cus­tody dur­ing Dr Mo­sisili’s ten­ure: “on 17 April 2007, Lite­boho sekaleli was shot dead in Mo­ha­lal­i­toe by Pitso Ground po­lice, thato Mahlelehlele died in Lithoteng Po­lice sta­tion on 11 June 2009, Moitl­haisi Mohlom­ing died in thaba-tseka Po­lice sta­tion on 26 May 2009, sekete Moshoeshoe died in Berea on Fe­bru­ary 2009, thuso Kaso died in po­lice cus­tody in Po­lice head­quar­ters on 26 June 2010 and Matšeliso thulo, daugh­ter to former Com­mis­sioner of Pris­ons, was shot dead by po­lice at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho but the PM did not blame any of the deaths on the Po­lice Com­mis­sion­ers at that time.”

he con­tin­ued: “the fol­low­ing is a list of high-pro­file peo­ple, lo­cal and ex­pa­tri­ates, who were shot and killed (as­sas­si­nated) dur­ing the 14 years the Prime Min­is­ter was in power. No ar­rest were made but the Prime Min­is­ter did not blame the Po­lice for in­com­pe­tence and dere­lic­tion of duty: ellen samuella Ja­cobina Ver­wey – an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen who was shot dead on 24 Novem­ber 2006 at Black swan Guest house, Morena Bereng sekho­nyana, Maile Mo­sisili – 2002, sello Machakela – 2012, setsoto Ran­thimo – 2007 and thabiso tšosane – 2015.

“I am dis­heart­ened to dis­cover that my per­for­mance or lack thereof is based on me­dia re­ports, spec­u­la­tions and bi­ased per­cep­tions spelled out in the body of the let­ter ad­dressed when so many heinous and dread­ful crimes were com­mit­ted dur­ing the PM’S reign and no ar­rests made as in­ti­mated ear­lier. the stan­dard used to mea­sure my per­for­mance is in­deed ground­less and jaun­diced”.

Com­mis­sioner tšooana fur­ther notes that he should not be re­tired be­cause within the short time he was at the helm of the LMPS, he man­aged to con­vince govern­ment to change the salary struc­ture of the po­lice, and also im­prove their work­ing con­di­tions, which he said was proof that he was good enough for the job.

“In 2014, new uni­forms and boots were pro­cured and the po­lice are now well-clothed and have proper badges. New ve­hi­cles have been pro­cured since 2014 and the po­lice are now able to travel far and wide.

“Po­lice sta­tions like tha­bana Morena and Matelile which did not have ve­hi­cles in the past now have fully ser­viced cars. Doc­u­ments in the po­lice ser­vice and po­lice web­site in par­tic­u­lar have re­ported that in 2014, there was sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion of mur­der. the po­lice also man­aged to in­ves­ti­gate white-col­lar crime. the in­ves­ti­ga­tions dis­cov­ered that politi­cians and high-rank­ing of­fi­cials in govern­ment have been im­pli­cated”.

Con­tacted on tues­day, Mr Mphaka con­firmed re­ceiv­ing Com­mis­sioner tšooana’s let­ter but would not com­ment fur­ther.

on the other hand, Com­mis­sioner tšooana ac­knowl­edged re­spond­ing to the ul­ti­ma­tum, adding “my fate within the LMPS will be de­ter­mined by the Prime Min­is­ter.”

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