Trade and Industry Minister Tefo Mapesela has called on the Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli, to step down over his alleged failure to suspend police officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of a protester at Kao Diamond Mine last month.
One person died and two others were critically injured on 8 February 2018 at Kao Mine after violent clashes broke out between the police and villagers who were protesting against the alleged failure by the mine to honour its promises to compensate and relocate them from the areas affected by mining operations.
Mr Mapesela, who visited the scene of the shooting in his capacity as the acting minister of mines at the time, condemned the heavy-handedness of the police which led to the loss of life.
He also threatened to shut down the mine if the authorities did not take corrective measures to address the villagers’ concerns within 90 days.
Mr Mapesela this week charged that the police had a tendency of covering up for each other whenever one of them was involved in acts of misconduct.
He said Compol Molibeli should step aside if he found it difficult to take disciplinary action against errant police officers. He also took a swipe at Police Minister, Retired Senior Superintendent ‘Mampho Mokhele, for failing to act on the matter.
“If (Compol) Molibeli can’t make decisions, he should just leave office and make room for someone who is ready to protect the people. He was not born a Commissioner of Police and if he can’t deliver he should just step down,” Mr Mapesela said, adding, “I can’t just sit back and watch this government being toppled by some rogue police elements”.
“Mme Mokhele is also a former police officer and has the executive powers to take charge of the situation but I am surprised that she also has not done a thing since this incident.
“If we stood up against the evil deeds of the past regime that include the killings of our people, then the same sin is still a sin even in this government. We can’t afford the blood of innocent people on our hands, not even by the so-called investors who don’t respect our people.”
Ms Mokhele did not respond to calls from this publication to comment on Mr Mapesela’s claims.
Mr Mapesela, who is also the ruling All Basotho Convention’s (ABC) legislator for Mokhotlong, said they came to power in June 2017 on the back of promises of ensuring good governance.
“We promised good governance and the rule of law and this was during the time when the army was persecuting the people. And now that we are in power we can’t just sit back and fail to deliver on our promises. It’s the least we owe our people.
“This government was not elected by the police alone even though they are part of the electorate and we can’t let the police bring this government down under our watch. We can’t just watch our people being killed by the police and not protect them.”
Police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, yesterday said Mr Mapesela’s call for the resignation of Compol Mopeli defies logic as the latter is currently seized with the Kao Mine issue.
“The Compol has got everything under control and investigations are ongoing. So it would be unfair to have him step down. Ultimately justice shall be served because no one is above the law,” Supt Mopeli said.
He added that “no arrests had been made yet and the implicated police officers are still at work pending investigations”.