Cops nabbed over missing officer
. . . as letsoepa fate hangs in the balance
A SPECIAL police investigating team has arrested two Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) members in connection with the disappearance of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng (pictured far right) in a move with seismic implications for Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa who is currently negotiating exit terms with the government.
Impeccable sources told the Lesotho Times yesterday that a third LMPS member had also been arrested in Maputsoe yesterday ahead of the hearing of a High Court case tomorrow in which PC Khetheng’s father wants the LMPS to be compelled to release him dead or alive.
Commissioner Letsoepa’s alleged failure to investigate PC Khetheng’s disappearance in March 2016 was among the reasons cited in a “show cause” letter from the government for why he should be dismissed two weeks ago.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, yesterday told this publication Commissioner Letsoepa is currently negotiating exit terms with the government.
Commissioner Letsoepa, who is on a forced 90-day forced leave, last week pleaded with Dr Thabane for an early retirement to prevent the consequent loss of benefits that come with a dismissal.
However, it remains to be seen if Commissioner Letsoepa’s wishes will be granted given that some sections of the government want the top cop to “account” for his alleged transgressions since his appointment on 3 November 2015.
In addition to allegedly failing to probe the Khetheng case, Commissioner Letsoepa is also accused of failing to probe the 30 August 2014 killing of Sub-inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and the 25 June 2015 fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lt-gen Maaparankoe Mahao.
Sub-inspector Ramahloko was on duty at Police Headquarters during a 30 August 2014 LDF raid on Maseru police stations.
Dr Thabane, who had fled to South Africa on the eve of the raid, described the operation as an attempted coup. However, the LDF said it was a special operation to foil a LMPS plan to give civilians firearms for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy protest march that was scheduled for 1 September 2014.
Lt-gen Mahao was shot dead by his erstwhile LDF colleagues on 25 June 2015 in Mokema, with the military claiming he was resisting arrest for allegedly plotting to overthrow the army command.
However, Lt-gen Mahao’s family has accused the army of killing
him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.
The Dr Thabane-led government has since wrung changes in the LMPS since its inauguration in June this year, with Deputy Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli being appointed acting police commissioner last month, which is seen by those privy to matter as a precursor to taking over from Commissioner Letsoepa.
The shake up in the police has also seen the recalling of 21 LMPS members who were sacked for various reasons by Commissioner Letsoepa.
PC Khetheng was stationed in Mokhotlong and last seen being arrested by his colleagues at a feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016. This is according to papers filed on 18 July 2016 by his father in the High Court case to compel his bosses to release him dead or alive that will be heard tomorrow.
PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.
He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.
Inspector Mofolo and PC Ntoana — were arrested in Leribe yesterday by a special investigating team.
Police claim he left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was. But the Khetheng family argues that the police must know where he is because they arrested him.
According to sources privy to the matter, the investigating team yesterday travelled from Police Headquarters in Maseru to Hlotse, Leribe to get a police docket on PC Khetheng’s disappearance.
“Upon arrival, the investigating team arrested Inspector Mofolo and PC Ntoana and drove back to Mas- eru with them,” said a police source.
Another source added: “They were asked to travel with the investigating team to help the police with investigations as they try to get to the bottom of PC Khetheng’s disappearance.”
LMPS spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, last night confirmed the arrests, although he would not be drawn to divulge names.
“Two police officers have been brought in to help police with investigations though we may not disclose their names and this is not just them as there are other people who are also helping to this effect. Investigations are still ongoing,” he said.
PC Makotoko was among the 21 recalled LMPS members that had been fired by Commissioner Letsoepa.
She had been fired for misconduct after challenging in the High Court of her transfer to Tlalinyane Police Post in Leribe district.
In her court papers, PC Makotoko claimed that after arresting PC Khetheng, they were ordered by Inspector Mofolo not to take PC Khetheng to the Hlotse holding cells.
They however took him to the same Hlotse police station where he was later driven away.
PC Makotoko said a day after the arrest, she received numerous calls from colleagues asking where PC Khetheng was. She said she became suspicious and asked Inspector Mofolo who had ordered them not to take Khetheng to Hlotse. PC Makotoko said she did not believe her superior’s explanation and later heard rumours that Khetheng had been killed.
PC Makotoko further said she was called to the Law Office in Maseru where she was asked to lie about the arrest and disappearance of PC Khetheng, but she refused and eventually dismissed for misconduct.