Cor­rupt cops kill tourism - LTDC

Lesotho Times - - News - Mo­halenyane Phakela

ROGUE po­lice of­fi­cers so­lic­it­ing bribes from tourists are a ma­jor threat to the tourism in­dus­try in Le­sotho.

This was said by Le­sotho Tourism De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LTDC) Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Mpaiphele Maqutu this week dur­ing a sen­si­ti­sa­tion sem­i­nar for north­ern re­gion Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) heads in Hlotse, Leribe.

The sem­i­nar was con­vened to find ways the LTDC and po­lice can col­lab­o­rate in pro­mot­ing the tourism sec­tor. It was part of the agency’s coun­try­wide sen­si­ti­sa­tion cam­paign on is­sues sur­round­ing tourism launched in 2014.

Mr Maqutu said col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the LTDC and po­lice was an es­sen­tial el­e­ment in fos­ter­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism sec­tor.

“We both play a cru­cial role in the de­vel­op­ment and eco­nomic struc­ture of this coun­try, and it is im­por­tant that we make tourists, be it do­mes­tic, from the African con­ti­nent or from over­seas, feel wel­come,” he said.

“When­ever a tourist gets a favourable re­cep­tion, he or she pro­motes the tourism desti­na­tion by telling friends about it and shar­ing pic­tures on so­cial me­dia which at­tracts more peo­ple. There are so many peo­ple who ben­e­fit from tourism such as tour op­er­a­tors and hos­pi­tal­ity of­fi­cers.”

The LTDC boss said it had come to their at­ten­tion some tourists were mis­treated by var­i­ous peo­ple in Le­sotho in­clud­ing po­lice of­fi­cers. He said a video made in 2013 has gone vi­ral on so­cial me­dia in which an LMPS of­fi­cer at a road block de­mands a bribe from a tourist.

“Tourists have com­plained about the con­duct of some po­lice of­fi­cers. The video show­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer de­mand­ing a bribe is very dis­turb­ing be­cause it chases tourists away and also paints a bad pic­ture of our coun­try,” Mr Maqutu said.

“When a tourist or ci­ti­zen sees a po­lice of­fi­cer, they should see a friend from whom they can get help. I know not ev­ery po­lice of­fi­cer acts in that way, and not ev­ery tourist is well man­nered.”

He added: “Through work­ing to­gether, we can boost our econ­omy through tourism. Our or­gan­i­sa­tions should op­er­ate in an ex­em­plary way so the rest of the na­tion can fol­low suit.”

For the LMPS’S part, As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice for the North­ern Re­gion Tebello Tšephe said per­pe­tra­tors of crimes such as bribery had been brought to book.

“There are sev­eral cases that have been reported in the past and the of­fi­cers who were found guilty were brought to book. Un­for­tu­nately, there is no mech­a­nism to re­lay this in­for­ma­tion glob­ally so that tourists know they can trust the po­lice in Le­sotho,” he said.

“We can erad­i­cate such crimes if we work to­gether on a con­tinu- ous ba­sis. It would be es­sen­tial if we have reg­u­lar vis­its from LTDC of­fi­cers, es­pe­cially on Wednesdays where we host lec­tur­ers at ev­ery sta­tion for all the staff mem­bers.”

ACP Tšephe also called on the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to en­sure tourists are given po­lice con­tact details upon ar­rival.

“I be­lieve is it im­por­tant for the in­for­ma­tion cards given to tourists when they en­ter the coun­try to con­tain con­tact num­bers for po­lice sta­tions so they can re­port to us at any time if they are ha­rassed. We can then deal with the mat­ter,” he said.

“Po­lice of­fi­cers should also be sta­tioned at all the tourism des­ti­na­tions to pre­vent crimes be­fore they oc­cur.”

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