Judge faults PM’s move against police boss

 

RELEBOHILE TSOAMOTSE

MASERU – Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli has successfully interdicted Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane from suspending and retiring him from active duty. This is after High Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, ruled that Thabane’s decision to retire Molibeli was irrational and done at the wrong time.

Justice Makara said the court considered the law and circumstances surrounding the case, as well as Molibeli’s contention that Thabane sought to retire him for investigating the death of his late wife Lipolelo Thabane, and is convinced that the decision to fire him was illogical.

The judge said “the prime minister appears to have deliberately embarked on getting rid of the commissioner of police.” This he said was evident from the moves Thabane initiated to get rid of Molibeli, despite an ongoing litigation and interim orders that barred him.

Thabane initially sent Molibeli on forced leave on January 10 and when Molibeli approached the courts, then he (Thabane) withdrew the letter but later suspended Molibeli and asked him to show cause why he could not be retired from the police service.

The suspension letter was also withdrawn and an order of court was made on January 9, which meant that Molibeli was still the police boss but Thabane made yet another move to get rid of him when he on January 10 wrote to the King asking him to appoint Assistant Commissioner Janki Hlaahla as the new commissioner.

In his letter, Thabane also said commissioner Molibeli had resigned as COMPOL prompting Molibeli to approach the court again. The police boss asked the court to interdict Thabane from proceeding with his intention to retire him and appoint Hlaahla as commissioner.

“The advice of the first respondent to His Majesty the King to require the applicant to retire from the office of Commissioner of Police be reviewed, corrected and set aside for the reason that it is irrational and illegal and therefore unlawful and of no force and effect in law,” read Molibeli’s application.

Molibeli also asked the court to nullify any legal instrument or document purporting to retire him.

“The purported exercise by the first respondent of any power under Section 91(3) of the constitution to retire applicant be reviewed, corrected and set aside.

“Any legal instrument or document proclaiming the retirement or purporting to have effect of retiring the applicant published under the authority of the fifth respondent or published pursuant first respondent’s purported exercise of powers under Section 91(3) of the constitution be declared unlawful.

“The retirement of the applicant by fifth respondent acting on the advice of the first respondent and or by the first respondent, purporting to act on the basis of Section 91(3) of the constitution be declared unlawful.”

Molibeli argued that his removal was meant to stop investigations into the death of Lipolelo Thabane.

“The closing of the investigative net (into Ms Thabane’s murder) and noose around the first respondent and others, and an attempt to forever thwart the process and outcomes of the investigations, with the consequence of immunising himself from criminal investigation and prosecution for murder of Lipolelo Thabane, are the moving spirit and the real reasons for my forced leave, suspension and retirement.

“The first respondent’s stratagem of having me indefinitely on forced leave and suspending failing, the last string in the bow and armoury in order to immunise himself from criminal investigations and prosecution, thus thwarting the rule of law, equality before the law, due process and justice, is to have me retired from the office of the Commissioner of Police by hook or crook.

“My removal from office of the Commissioner of Police and the appointment of a willing and subservient candidate who will protect his interests guarantee the first respondent an immunisation tool against the investigation, prosecution and justice,” he argued.

Justice Makara said he was not seized with the accusations leveled against the prime minister or those against Molibeli forcing his retirement; but said he was skeptical about the rationality of the prime minister’s decision to retire Molibeli.

He said he blamed those who are close to and advise the prime minister, adding that he believes Thabane was misinformed when he advised the King that Molibeli should resign.

“The court has created an impression that those who advise the Prime Minister had said the COMPOL has resigned hence the PM presentation to His Majesty that the commissioner has resigned, the PM’s oath of allegiance means giving the King accurate information,” Judge Makara remarked.

He also said Thabane’s timing and the circumstances surrounding the case makes his decision irrational, adding that he should have been advised to reschedule his decision to retire Molibeli lest the moves are interpreted otherwise.

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