HEAVILY armed police officers descended on the home of the outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Leaba Thetsane, in Thetsane in Maseru on Tuesday and forced him to hand over his official vehicle to the government.
The raid comes barely a fortnight after Adv Thetsane filed a constitutional case seeking the reversal of the government’s decision to retire him from the public service with effect from 17 January 2018.
Both Adv Thetsane and the Law and Constitutional Affairs ministry’s Principal Secretary, ‘Mole Khumalo, confirmed the police raid, with the former DPP telling the Lesotho Times that he was left with no choice but to surrender the vehicle to the authorities after heavily armed police officers stormed his house on Tuesday.
“I can confirm that heavily armed police officers came to my house on Tuesday at about 12:30 pm demanding that I release the vehicle into the government’s possession,” Adv Thetsane said yesterday.
“However, I cannot comment further on the matter as these issues are being dealt with in the courts of law but what I can tell you for now is that I didn’t release the vehicle freely.
“They (the police) were armed with AK47 firearms. I immediately called the one who was in charge of the operation to come into my house and we talked over the matter. It was around 12 noon when I was about to leave for my gym sessions,” Adv Thetsane said.
He said that he found it strange for heavily armed police to involve themselves in purely civil matters.
However, Law and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary, ‘Mole Khumalo, said that Adv Thetsane had only himself to blame for his experience at the hands of the police.
Adv Khumalo said they only requested police assistance after Adv Thetsane refused to receive a letter from the government requesting that he return the official vehicle since he had ceased being a civil servant on 17 January this year.
“He (Adv Thetsane) was officially retired after a cabinet decision to retire him with effect from 17 January. I therefore wrote him a letter requesting that he return the vehicle to the government as he was no longer a civil servant.
“He refused to accept the letter and upon hearing this, I called him to discuss the matter and he informed me that since his case was before the courts of law, he could only communicate with us through his lawyers.
“It is then that we asked for assistance from the police because we had exhausted all communication channels and we needed to repossess the vehicle from him as he was no longer a civil servant,” Adv Khumalo said.
Advocate Thetsane, who served as DPP since 1999, was initially scheduled to retire on 28 June 2018 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.
However, the cabinet resolved that he retire with effect from 17 January this year and Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane was subsequently appointed acting DPP.
Adv Thetsane has challenged that decision in the constitutional court.
The court sat on 5 February and set the 27th of February this year as the date for hearing Adv Thetsane’s application.
Three judges namely, Justices, Semapo Peete, Lebohang Molete and Sakoane Sakoane will hear the application.