MASERU — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his Police Minister Mophato Monyake seem not to agree on how to handle the issue of Eyob Belay Asemie, a Mosotho businessman of Ethiopian origin.
Asemie was arrested on Sunday but was not charged.
On Monday the High Court ordered his release but the police refused.
Police Commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza, is now facing a contempt of court charge for refusing to release him as ordered by the High Court.
The police say Esemie, 34, escaped from police custody on Tuesday.
His lawyer however says as far as he knows Asemie is still in custody and only the police can know his whereabouts.
There now seems to be confusion in government on how Asemie’s case should be handled.
On Tuesday Monyake told MoAfrika FM radio station that Asemie should be re-arrested.
Monyake accused Asemie of “basking in too much comfort in this country that he seeks to have the police commissioner arrested”.
He said Asemie, together with Home Affairs officials who gave him citizenship documents, will be arrested and prosecuted.
But Thabane has a different take on how the matter should be handled.
He told the Lesotho Times, hours after Monyake’s radio interview, that court decisions should be respected.
If the police want to arrest Asemie they should wait until he commits another offence, Thabane said.
“As for now the High Court has ordered that he should be released and the government has the responsibility to ensure that that order is respected,” Thabane said.
“The arm of the court is the police and if the arm cannot work for its owner there is something seriously wrong with that arm.
“When I deal with this matter it should not be seen as a minister against a certain police officer. It is our responsibility as a nation to give the courts the respect they deserve.”
The premier said he did not understand when the police decided it was right to disobey the courts.
“There were no such incidents when I was the minister of police and I don’t know whether in my absence from government the police developed this attitude towards the courts. If anybody comes hauling such things from the past government, they will have to stop.”
Without democracy and rule of law the country will be ungovernable, Thabane added.