THE Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) yesterday filed an urgent application challenging the promotions of six police officers with the police body accusing the police authorities of breaching the law.
Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli on 12 January 2018 promoted six police officers with immediate effect, following the announcement of six vacant positions within the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) last December.
The six officers who were promoted are Inspector Baleme Edwin Lebajoa who is now an Assistant Commissioner, Senior Inspector Lefu Ralethoko who was elevated to the Senior Superintendent while Police Spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli and Butha-Buthe Police Senior Inspector, Thato Ramarikhoane, are now Superintendents.
Inspectors, Mohlapiso Mohlapiso and Boipuso Monne were promoted to the rank of Senior Inspector.
However, LEPOSA alleges the said promotions were executed contrary to the laws governing the LMPS.
In its court papers, LEPOSA calls upon the respondents to explain why “the promotions announced on 12 January 2018, shall not be declared null, void and of no legal force and effect in law for violating provisions of Section 8(1) read with 8(2) of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Act No. 7 of 1998.”
The police association also wants the High Court to nullify the said promotions for not being compliant with the provisions of police regulations as amended in 2003.
Listed as the respondents are the Commissioner of Police, Mr Molibeli, Staff Officer to Commissioner of Police, LMPS Human Resources Officer, the six promoted officers and the Attorney General.
Supporting the association’s claim, LEPOSA’s secretary general, Moraleli Motloli made an affidavit giving rise to the police body’s complaint.
“On 11 December 2017, a Memo published by the 1st respondent (Mr Molibeli) announced six vacancies in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
“The vacancies were in the ranks of Assistant Commissioner of Police, Senior Superintendent, Superintendent and Senior Inspector,” he states.
He alleges the candidates were only given seven days to apply, adding the memo that invited applications contained specifications that were couched in general terms “with a view to evade the legal obligations placed upon the 1st respondent to base promotions in the LMPS on merit as envisaged by Regulation 7(2) of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (Administration) Regulations 2003 as amended.”
He adds: “Important and verifiable considerations such as training and educational qualifications were deliberately left out in the job specification even for the senior positions such as the Assistant Commissioner of Police.”
Senior Inspector Motloli argues the merit based system requires competitive stages such as shortlisting and interviewing of candidates.
“In this particular instance, there were no competitive stages followed after the advertisement. Instead, there has been startling secrecy which clearly offends the dictates of fair competition.
“In terms of the law, there should be a Police Appointments and Promotion Board which presides over all the stages of promotion and appointment of police officers,” he charged.
He further said the board should comprise the police commissioner, a person nominated by the Minister of Police and a person nominated by the Minister of Public Service.
However, he alleges there was never such a board to deal with the promotion of the said six police officers.
“On the 12 January 2018, the 2nd respondent (Staff Officer to Commissioner of Police), purportedly on behalf of 1st respondent, announced the promotion of six officers to the ranks that were initially advertised.
“The anomaly with these promotions is that they were not done by the board, and they were not based on any established criteria of promotions contrary to the provisions of Regulation (7) of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (Administration) Regulations 2003 as amended,” he stated.
He further accuses the police authorities of breach of procedure explaining that three officers, Senior Inspector Ralethoko and Inspectors Mopeli and Lebajoa, skipped ranks contrary to Regulation 7(1) of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (Administration) Regulations 2003 as amended.
S/Insp Motloli says this clearly demonstrates the wanton disregard for law in the processing of such promotions.
He further says promotion of the said officers was made in the middle of the financial year – something that he argued was “indicative of the fact that the 1st respondent has his own preferences who cannot even wait for beginning of the financial year”.
The police association secretary general also alleges the promotions were “unfair, discriminatory and violated the provisions of the Police Act of 1998 read with Lesotho Mounted Police Service (Administration) Regulations 2003 as amended.”
The court is expected to convene tomorrow (today) to deal with the interim reliefs sought by LEPOSA, which include treatment of the application as an urgent matter and the suspension of the promotions until the finalization of the application.