Police boss Letsoepa retires

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Pascalinah Kabi

FORMER police commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa, is now officially retired as of 11 September 2017 after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane last week accepted his request to take an early retirement.

Mr Letsoepa – who was appointed by the Pakalitha Mosisili-led former government in November 2015 – was sent on an involuntary 90-day leave by Dr Thabane in June this year.

Police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, confirmed the development this week.

He said government was still to appoint Mr Letsoepa’s successor. Acting police boss, Holomo Molibeli, has been tipped for the top position.

Mr Letsoepa wrote to Dr Thabane in July requesting to be allowed to take an early retirement to pre-empt attempts to dismiss him which would have resulted in the loss of some of his benefits.

He made the request after then Acting Government Secretary, Emmanuel Lesoma, gave him  seven days by to “show cause” why he should not be dismissed.

In the letter, the former top cop was accused of a litany of charges related to misconduct and “and/or criminal activities”.

Among other things, Mr Letsoepa was accused of failing to probe the 30 August 2014 killing of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and the 25 June 2015 fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was killed on 30 August 2014 while on duty at Police Headquarters during an LDF raid on Maseru police stations.

Dr Thabane, who had fled to South Africa on the eve of the raid, described the operation as an attempted coup. However, the LDF said it was a special operation to foil a LMPS plan to give civilians firearms for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy protest march that was scheduled for 1 September 2014.

Lt-Gen Mahao was shot dead by his erstwhile LDF colleagues on 25 June 2015 in Mokema, with the military claiming he was resisting arrest for allegedly plotting to overthrow the army command.

However, Lt-Gen Mahao’s family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

The government is in the process of engaging intergovernmental police organisation, Interpol, to facilitate the extradition of Mr Letsoepa from South Africa to assist with investigations into the murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng.

PC Khetheng was last seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016.

PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.

The LMPS had argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was. For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they arrested him.

A body believed to be that of PC Khetheng was exhumed at Lepereng Cemetery in the Maseru district on 11 August this year after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court in light of the ongoing investigations into his disappearance and suspected murder.

If found, Mr Letsoepa will be joining former defense minister Tšeliso Mokhosi who stands accused of the same murder.

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 190 member countries.

If a person is wanted by a country for prosecution or to serve a sentence based on an arrest warrant or court decision, Interpol assists the national police in identifying and locating such a person to arrest and extradite them.

Mr Letsoepa was also accused of violating procurement procedures by sending LMPS fire brigade motor vehicles to South Africa for repairs, allegedly without following proper procurement channels.

Mr Letsoepa was also accused of insubordination and rebellion, after he went out of his way to deny National University of Lesotho a protest permit last October.

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