Po­lice pro­mo­tions re­voked

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Tefo Tefo

PO­LICE of­fi­cers who were con­tro­ver­sially pro­moted by Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Mo­lahlehi Let­soepa (pic­tured), a day af­ter the 3 June 2017 snap elec­tions which ush­ered in the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion-led four party coali­tion govern­ment, will have to re­vert to their pre­vi­ous ranks fol­low­ing a High Court rul­ing on Thurs­day.

The rul­ing was made in the case where the Le­sotho Po­lice Staff As­so­ci­a­tion (LEPOSA) had chal­lenged the pro­mo­tions on the grounds that they vi­o­lated the laws gov­ern­ing the po­lice ser­vice.

Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa, who is cur­rently on an en­forced leave which is widely seen as the pre­lude to his dis­missal by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, pro­moted 36 po­lice of­fi­cers on 4 June 2017.

This prompted LEPOSA to lodge a court ap­pli­ca­tion to nul­lify the pro­mo­tions.

LEPOSA also sought a tem­po­rary or­der to freeze the newly pro­moted po­lice of­fi­cers’ salaries un­til the case had been fi­nalised.

High Court judge, Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe Hla­joane, or­dered that the new pro­mo­tions should re­main in force un­til the ap­pli­ca­tion had been fi­nalised.

And on the Thurs­day, the High Court granted LEPOSA’s ap­pli­ca­tion for the nul- li­fi­ca­tion of the pro­mo­tions af­ter the com­mis­sioner of po­lice and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral with­drew their de­fence.

The com­mis­sioner and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral ini­tially op­posed LEPOSA’s ap­pli­ca­tion un­til 7 Au­gust this year when their lawyers in­formed the court that they in­tended to with­draw their de­fence.

The move did not sit well with some of the pro­moted of­fi­cers who were also cited as re­spon­dents to the case.

They lodged their ob­jec­tion that the com­mis­sioner and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral could not with­draw their de­fence, be­cause they (pro­moted of­fi­cers) re­lied on the com­mis­sioner’s af­fi­davit to also de­fend their case.

But the High Court de­liv­ered a blow on Thurs­day when it ruled that the com­mis­sioner and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral had a right to with­draw their de­fence.

The court also ruled in favour of LEPOSA.

This means that the po­lice of­fi­cers must re­vert to the ranks which they held be­fore the con­tro­ver­sial pro­mo­tions.

The about-turn by the po­lice author­i­ties to with­draw their de­fence was done af­ter Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa was last month sent on an en­forced 90 day leave as the new regime moves to re­place him in the top po­si­tion.

Sub­se­quent to Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa’s forced leave, Keketso Mon­a­heng acted as the po­lice com­mis­sioner be­fore he was re­placed by Holomo Moli­beli, also in an act­ing ca­pac­ity.

Upon as­sum­ing du­ties, Mr Mon­a­heng on 30 June 2017 or­dered that the salaries of the newly pro­moted po­lice of­fi­cers be sus­pended pend­ing fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the case be­fore the High Court.

This, did not sit well with the pro­moted of­fi­cers and they filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court seek­ing to re­verse Mr Mon­a­heng’s de­ci­sion.

In the no­tice of mo­tion the of­fi­cers pe­ti­tioned the court to or­der that “the de­ci­sion of the Act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice to re­verse the salaries of the ap­pli­cants on their newly pro­moted po­si­tions should be de­clared null and void.” In ad­di­tion, they wanted the court to or­der that “the de­ci­sion of the Act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice to re­verse the salaries of the ap­pli­cants on their newly pro­moted po­si­tions should not be im­ple­mented un­til the pro­ceed­ings in CIV/ APN/216/2017 have been fi­nalised.” The LEPOSA pe­ti­tion was filed un­der the case num­ber CIV/ APN/216/2017.

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