Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki, has pledged not to meddle in the operations of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) following his inauguration as Minister of Police this week.
Mr Moleleki is facing corruption charges before the High Court, for allegedly granting mining licences to a Mafeteng-based company in 2012 without following due process. He was Natural Resources minister at the time the offence was allegedly committed and is accused of abusing his powers in awarding the licences.
In another case, Mr Moleleki is facing fraud and corruption charges in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court for allegedly diverting an electrification project from two local mines to his home constituency of Machache, without cabinet approval.
However, in an interview with the Lesotho Times on the side-lines of cabinet’s inauguration ceremony held at the Royal Palace, Mr Moleleki said he would not use his position to intimidate the police from continuing with their investigations even if he could be the subject of the probe.
“The promise I make to Basotho and my new colleagues in the LMPS is that the police have now been saved from political abuse through my appointment as their minister.
“I’m not expecting the police to favour anyone in pursuit of their duty, including me as their minister, and neither should they favour anyone because of that person’s political standing. I expect the police to serve the people without fear or favour, and to arrest anyone irrespective of that person’s status, should they have sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed,” said Mr Moleleki.
According to Moleleki, the police would be reporting to the Commissioner and so he would not be in a position to influence any investigation, hence fears that he could influence their work were unfounded.
“The police should not get instructions from anyone but the Commissioner. The same goes for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who should not be instructed to sue anybody.
“For instance, we cannot be instructing such institutions to get a special lawyer to prosecute certain people the way we saw my predecessor, Ntate Thabane (Prime Minister Thomas Thabane) doing to me when he was in charge of the police,” Mr Moleleki said.
“Our constitution does not allow for such meddling; such interference. We can’t have a minister instructing the police or even the prosecution on how they should carry out their duties; that’s unconstitutional. What is going to be operational is the constitution of Lesotho and not my personal interest as Moleleki. That is how I am going to be working so the police and Basotho at large, have nothing to fear.”
Mr Moleleki also pledged to ensure the police have enough resources to effectively fight crime.
“The police should be given the resources they require to discharge their duties effectively. And like I said, their role is to ensure the wellbeing of the entire nation.
“The police slogan which says ‘a police officer is a helper and a friend,’ should also be turned around to be, ‘a friend, a helper, a police officer’. This would change the perception Basotho have today about the police.
“What we should also emphasise is the need for the police to be friends with children and the elderly. They should be helpers of the nation, and not be feared by the very vulnerable groups they are supposed to be protecting.”