Overzealous police recruits ‘disciplined’



MASERU – The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has assured the nation that disciplinary measures will be taken against any acts of police brutality and victimisation of the members of the public.

The statement follows video footage that went viral on the social platforms this week of police trainees – clad in an unusual khaki uniform – who attacked and beat up members of the public near the main traffic circle in Maseru for minor offences such as not wearing face masks or crossing the streets at undesignated areas. In the footage the police recruits, as they are known, are seen slapping and kicking around a man for not wearing a face mask on November 23. They also reportedly roughed up taxi drivers for picking up and dropping off passengers at undesignated points.

LMPS has since released a statement making an apology to the general public through the PRO office where Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said: “It has come to our attention that the recruits from PTC are torturing and harassing people in the streets of Maseru”, which he said was unacceptable because the police are governed by the law and, therefore, they should uphold it and not break it.

Mpiti continued: “Disciplinary actions have already been taken on the perpetrators that are not willing to uphold the law.” He, however, did not say what measures had been taken to discipline the overzealous police recruits, neither did he disclose how many of them had been caught off-side. The police have also called on the victims of these actions to report to the office of the Inspectorate, Complaints and Discipline at the Police Headquarters in Maseru. Some members of the public in the streets of Maseru said they were dismayed and shocked with the kind of treatment the police recruits were exerting on the public.

“These recruits were beating up people in a gang and for pretty lame reasons,” said one, adding that they have completely violated the human rights of civilians in this country who have the right to live without fear. A lot of Basotho at different platforms expressed their displeasure at the incidences, saying the police recruits have traumatised people walking in town. Some have responded angrily calling for tough penalties against the perpetrators.

“Brutality is criminality. They (recruits) are stirring hatred and revenge. Their main duty is to protect the citizens not abuse and misuse their power on harmless citizens… sadly their seniors find pleasure in this barbaric behaviour and it will never end well,” read one comment. Another said “…the brutality they enforce on us will end in tears for them…” On the other hand, some people appreciated the presence of the recruits in town, saying they helped curb the ongoing criminality that petty thieves exert on the general public.

During the festive season a lot of people fall victim to pick-pocketing. However, with the presence of recruits in town, a lot of the thieves seem to have toned down their criminal activity fearing to be caught and beaten up. In a statement earlier this week the LMPS announced that police recruits would be deployed to boost police numbers as the festive season is nearing to help curb criminal activities that may arise in town.

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