Cops nabbed in illegal firearm sale



. . . confiscate gun and demand M2 000 in bribe


MASERU – Two members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) are behind bars following their arrest for the illegal sale of a firearm to a Mosotho man. LMPS spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, told the police weekly media briefing that the victim revealed to police that he had bought the gun from the two officers through a middle man who is a cab driver and a friend of the two.

The report further indicates that immediately after the illegal transaction, the two policemen confronted the buyer pretending to be on duty and stated that they had received a tip-off that the man was in possession of an illegal firearm.

They then seized the gun and demanded a M2 000 bribe to set him free. The victim promised to pay later. He then went to report the matter to the police, according to Mopeli. “Following the official report by the man, the police then gave him the said amount of money that had been requested for as bribe to use it as a trap leading to the arrest of the officers. The gun and the money were recovered from the two officers,” said Mopeli.

The involvement of police officers in illicit gun sale makes headlines again after claims from several quarters that many firearms stolen in LMPS armouries are sold to famo gangs and other criminals suspected of coordinating numerous cases of murder, armed robberies and other violent crimes using illegally obtained weapons. In the past months, violent crimes, robberies and murders have escalated, and Senior Superintendent Mopeli indicated during the media briefing that while both the LMPS and the army have increased their patrols in various areas their own members, especially the police, seem to be somehow linked to some of the crimes reported.

He further stated that some members of the security forces have been found to be associated with famo gangs responsible for criminal activities around the country as well as in neighbouring South Africa. About 75 guns were reported missing from the Mafeteng Police Station in November last year and the police authorities stipulated at the time that this was an inside job.

The guns were reportedly sold to famo gangsters who continue to be sources of great suffering to many innocent villagers in Mafeteng and other parts of the country. The two police officers remain in custody at the police headquarters in Maseru and they will appear before court as soon as the Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, has issued the directive.

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