Court orders 12 police recruits to rejoin force

IRENE SEME

MASERU – A high court decision has ordered the police command to reinstate dismissed police recruits. Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli has lost the lawsuit in which the police administration was challenged for the discharge of 12 police recruits from the Police Training College (PTC) programme on the grounds that those individuals are members of the ‘notorious prison gang Manomoro, while others were found to have been enrolled while already pregnant.

In the final order on June 29 before High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Mokoko, the court stated that all applicants should be reinstated back into the PTC recruitment programme without loss of the status and benefits. The court order states: “the decision of the first respondent to discharge the Applicants from the PTC programme be and is hereby reviewed and set aside as irregular and wrongful thus null and void ab initio and of no legal force and effect.”

The order further states that respondent pay Applicants any arrear salaries which may have been paid in their absence. Lastly, the order states that the respondents pay costs of the case. Despite an interim court order dated May 24 in the high court before Justice Makhetha which orders the reinstatement of applicants without loss of their title and all the benefits, Commissioner Molibeli reportedly ignored it.

When contacted for comment on the dismissal of recruits earlier this month, Molibeli said he was dumbfounded about how suspected gangsters and members of organized crime could beat all screening processes to make it among PTC recruits. Meanwhile, Molibeli has since been served with a ‘show cause letter’ as to why he cannot be dismissed from his position by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro. He is accused of gross malpractices, incompetence and lack of orientation and command of the police service, amongst others.

His troubles with Majoro were also linked to the saga of dismissing 12 recruits and immediately replacing them with the same number believed to be from the constituency political picking. The issue is still pending in the courts of law with arguments for his forced retirement expected in the high court soon. On May 25, these 12 police recruits were served with dismissal letters dated May 19. The main reason stipulated on the letter is that these individuals, all male except for one female, are gang members.

On May 13, the 12 recruits were called by their instructors and served with letters to show course why they could not be released from their training. The letter was titled ‘letter of representation for discharge from the Police Training College’. According to Public Eye sources, the letter raised issues about dissatisfactory character and not about the dismissed being members of a gang. On May 15 the recruits were served with a letter correcting the previous letter.

In an earlier interview Commissioner Molibeli, however, told this publication that of late the LMPS vetting process is better than ever before as it is conducted in different stages – even before training is commenced. Molibeli emphasized the training had not yet started when the 12 recruits were dismissed.

Asked if the fact that those recruits have already been present at the PTC compound does not pose a security threat considering what they are suspected of, Molibeli said “terrorism is a serious threat and we have to keep on ensuring that we are all insulated from it, our institution is included.”

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