Police promotions case takes new turn

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 Tefo Tefo

THE police promotions case in which the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) are challenging the legality of promotions for 36 officers promotions has taken a new twist after the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General indicated they were no longer opposing the application.

The promotions were announced on 4 June 2017, a day after the 3 June snap elections which ushered in a four party coalition government comprising of the All Basotho Convention, Basotho Congress Party, Alliance for Democrats and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.

They replaced the former seven parties’ regime that was headed by Democratic Congress leader, Pakalitha Mosisili.

Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane moved to effect changes in the police force which saw Police Commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa, being sent on a forced 90-day leave as a precursor to possible dismissal.

Commissioner Letsoepa is one of the respondents in the subsequent LEPOSA court application that was filed in June seeking the nullification of the promotions.

LEPOSA argues that the promotions violated provisions of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Act no. 7 of 1998 and other regulations.

Commissioner Letsoepa was initially replaced by Keketso Monaheng before Holomo Molibeli took over as acting commissioner of police.

The LEPOSA suit was supposed to proceed before the High Court on Monday but it was postponed to next Monday after the commissioner of police and the attorney general indicated they no longer intended to oppose the case.

LEPOSA’s lawyer, Advocate Hoolo ‘Nyane, revealed the latest developments in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.

He said lawyers involved in the matter met with the presiding judge, Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, in her offices on Monday to discuss the case.

“The case will be heard next Monday (14 August),” Advocate ‘Nyane said, adding, “The court will be dealing with the preliminary points of law raised by the respondents.

“They are making an issue about the withdrawal of the commissioner of police and the attorney general’s opposition to the matter,” he added.

The lawyer representing the office of the attorney general, Advocate Makhele Sekati, also confirmed the postponement of the case.

When the case was first brought before court, LEPOSA asked that the promotions be temporarily halted until the court had finalised its application.

LEPOSA also sought a temporary order freezing the newly promoted police officers’ salaries until the case was finalised.

However, Justice Hlajoane ordered that the promotions should remain in force until the application was finalised.

Upon assuming office after Commissioner Letsoepa’s enforced leave, Deputy Commissioner Monaheng on 30 June ordered that the salaries of the newly promoted officers be frozen pending finalisation of the LEPOSA case.

This did not go down well with the officers who subsequently filed an urgent application before the High Court seeking a reversal of to reverse Commissioner Monaheng’s decision.

In the notice of motion the officers want the court to order that “the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Police to reverse the salaries of the applicants on their newly promoted positions should be declared null and void”.

The main application by LEPOSA as well as that of the promoted officers will be argued together.

 

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