By Staff Writers
Maseru, Jan 14 (The Night’s Watch) – Last Friday when police summoned his wife for questioning in connection with the assassination of former First Lady Lipolelo Thabane, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane tried to arm twist His Majesty King Letsie III into appointing Janki Hlaahla as the Commissioner of Police with immediate effect.
If the King hesitated to appoint Hlaahla, Thabane said he would do it himself, and the appointment would be deemed to have been done by the King and to be his act.
Thabane’s threat has been laid bare by a leaked letter that Thabane wrote to the King on Friday last week, a day after the High Court ordered that his letter suspending Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli, dated January 3, be withdrawn.
Now it has been revealed that Thabane could not back down and rescind his resolution to get rid of Molibeli even after he was slapped on the wrist by the High Court. He tried to push Molibeli out at all costs.
“Pursuant to Section 147(3) of the Constitution of Lesotho, 1993 read together with Section 5(20 of the Police Service Act, 1998, I wish to advise Your Majesty to appoint Mr Janki Hlaahla as the Commissioner of Police with effect from 10 January, 2020,” Thabane wrote in his letter to the King.
He said the decision to recommend appointment of Hlaahle followed the retirement of the former Commissioner of Police Molibeli. It is worth mentioning that Molibeli has not retired as commissioner of police and has indicated that he has no desire to retire early.
As you read this, he is still the Commissioner of Police.
Thabane’s letter was written on the same that his young wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, was called for questioning but she brazenly refused to present herself to police as requested without giving reasons.
This prompted police to get an arrest warrant from the Magistrate Court which authorised them to arrest her, but when police raided the State House on Friday evening, she was reportedly nowhere to be found, prompting the police to launch a manhunt for her.
Police have reportedly labelled her “a fugitive from justice”.
Thabane added in his letter to the King that: “If it pleases Your Majesty to accept this advice, I attach herewith Legal Instruments for Your Majesty’s signature.”
He said due to the sensitivity of the current situation with the police service, “may it please Your Majesty to treat this matter with utmost urgency that it deserves”.
“Your Majesty is hereby advised to act in accordance with my advice on/or before 12:00 noon on the 10th January, 2020. Your Majesty should take notice that if by 12:00 noon Your Majesty has not acted on the basis of the advice given, I shall invoke the provisions of Section 91(3) of the Constitution of Lesotho,” he concluded.
The cited section of the Constitution states that: “Where the King is required by this Constitution to do any act in accordance with the advice of any person or authority other than the Council of State, and the Prime Minister is satisfied that the King has not done that act, the Prime Minister may inform the King that it is the intention of the Prime Minister to do that act himself after the expiration of a period to be specified by the Prime Minister, and if at the expiration of that period the King has not done that act the Prime Minister may do that act himself and shall, at the earliest opportunity thereafter, report the matter to Parliament; and any act so done by the Prime Minister shall be deemed to have been done by the King and to be his act.”
It is currently not clear whether the King agreed to act on the basis of Thabane’s advice and within the stipulated time frames.
However, this publication understands that the plan to get rid of Molibeli fell through on Sunday when the High Court interdicted and restrained Thabane forthwith from advising the King to require Molibeli to retire from the office of the Commissioner of Police.
The court also interdicted the King from considering and/or accepting the advice by Thabane to retire Molibeli.
It interdicted Thabane from purporting to act on the basis of section 91(3) of the constitution to retire Molibeli from the office of the commissioner.
Molibeli apparently fell out of favour with Thabane when he fingered the prime minister in the murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane.
On December 23, last year, Molibeli wrote a letter to Thabane making him aware that investigations regarding “the assassination of Mrs Lipolelo Thabane that occurred on the 14th of June 2017 are still continuing”.
In this particular case, Molibeli said, “we have sought and engaged assistance of the external experts from SADC Region. Further we have asked for the assistance of Federal bureau of Investigations (FBI) from the United States of America”.
He indicated that among other things, the investigations revealed that that there was a telephonic communication at the scene of crime in question and that the cell phone number 58****77 was involved in that communication with another cell phone, known to the police, at the time of assassination of Mrs Thabane.
He said the investigations further revealed that the aforementioned cell phone number belongs to Thabane.
“The Lesotho Mounted Police Service hereby kindly requests your explanation regarding the above background information. Your explanation is expected to cover the following:
- Name of a person your cell phone was communicating with.
- His/her place of residence as well as his/her current contacts.
- What was the subject matter of the aforementioned communication?
- Any other information you may find pertinent in assisting successful completion of this investigation.”
Instead of replying to Molibeli’s letter, Thabane attempted to push Molibeli out of office – a move which NGOs said flew in the face of the Constitution of Lesotho and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) of 1998.
Thabane wrote a letter that instructed Molibeli to proceed to a forced leave with effect from January 2.
The letter was suspended by the high Court on January 3, but on the same day, Thabane purportedly suspended Molibeli “from office of Commissioner of Police for 60 days” pending investigations to determine the latter’s fitness or preparedness to hold the office.
“Therefore, the suspension is with immediate effect and restricts you from interfering with the entire Lesotho Mounted Police Service and its premises,” said the then acting government secretary Emmanuel Lesoma in a letter to Molibeli.
Lesoma also requested Molibeli to show representations in writing within seven working days on receipt of the letter, “as to why The Right Honourable the Prime Minister may not advise the King to retire you from Office of the Commissioner of Police”.
This prompted Molibeli to file another application asking the High Court for an order declaring that his suspension from office by Thabane, with immediate effect, was “irregular, unlawful, illegal, and null and void ab initio”.
Molibeli told the court that the decision to suspend him was made “mala fide” (in bad faith) and to achieve ulterior motives harboured by Thabane against him.
The court ruled last Thursday that: “The letter of suspension of the Applicant from the Office of the Commissioner of Police by the 1st respondent dated 3rd January 2020, is hereby withdrawn, to the extent that it deals with the issue of suspension.”
It added that: “The letter of appointment dated the 6th January 2020 appointing Mr. Sera Makharilele to act as the Commissioner of Police is hereby withdrawn.”
The order was a result of Prime Minister Thabane’s out of court settlement with Molibeli.
The High Court also ordered the respondents to pay the costs of the application to Molibeli, including wasted costs for two days. NW