The Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) once again triumphed over police chief Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli in a legal matter following an order by the Magistrateâ€™s court that the latter return LEPOSA properties seized last month.
The items were seized during a raid on the LEPOSA offices after failure to account for the 159 firearms that were purchased through a police firearms scheme back in 2014. Among the seized items were cash books, cheque books, bank statements, office stamps, internal requisition forms, receipts, invoices, insurance books, firearms scheme file and four computers.
According to the auditorâ€™s report on LEPOSA, there were 159 guns that were unaccounted for while it was being presented to the Police Commissioner in July 2021. This caused a tension between the Commissioner of Police and LEPOSA leading to the raid of the associationâ€™s offices up to the courts of law.
Senior Resident Magistrate Thamae Thamae ordered the police to return the seized property on the grounds that it had been illegally taken from LEPOSA. He also said that the property should be released forthwith to the applicant and/or its officers, each one or all of them being National Executive Committee members namely Senior Inspector Modia Molumo Motloli, Inspector Mphetho and Lance Sergeant Motseki forthwith pending final determination of the application.
â€œThe search warrants issued by this honourable court before Her Worship Magistrate Qoo on November 16, 2021 is hereby cancelled as the respondents failed to comply with section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Evidence Act of 1981,â€ Thamae said.
Thamae also ordered Lesotho Mounted Police Services to pay the costs of suit occurred during the case. He also stated that there was no appearance for the respondents so the final court order will be as granted.
However, the police chief and the police have not complied with the order to release the LEPOSA property up to date. Also, the property is still at the police headquarters in Maseru after the police legal team refused to let them be taken.
This is the results of the impact caused by the audit report done on the firearms scheme that was presented before the police chief then played blame games with LEPOSA on the accountability of the missing 159 gun worth M1 431 000.00. Taking different instances, the duo says that the guns have gone missing and that no one has been held liable for their disappearance as well as the over M1.4 million in respect of their sale at the hands of LEPOSA.
Molibeli blamed LEPOSA for illegally trading in firearms without due licensing, hence police calling-in its leadership (including the President and other executives) for questioning to shed more light on the missing weapons, Mofokeng sees the move as double-standards by the copsâ€™ chief since the scheme was in fact orchestrated by Molibeli during his tenure as LEPOSA President.
The LMPS gun scheme was established in 2013 by LEPOSA as a way to reach out to the police officers with fire-arms at simplified terms. However, this initiative was changed in later years when LPEPOSA decided to sell the guns to the civilians as another way of simplifying the long procedures the public had to go through while applying for a gun license.
â€œLEPOSA did not report to the police authority about the missing guns so we had to find other means of investigating the whereabouts of the missing guns. It was only until last week Friday when we had to call in the president of LEPOSA and other members to assist the police with investigations,â€ said Molibeli.
Molibeli added that, the police officers do not sell guns so LEPOSA traded without a license. He also urged everyone who bought guns from LEPOSA whether police officers or the public to come forward as a way to record the data of the guns and numbers as there are a lot of on-going gun crimes being committed in the country.
It is the police duty to have control over the possession of fire-arms in the country otherwise the public is at risk. He also said that it is highly possible that some of the stolen guns may be sold to the Famo music gangs.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Newsday, Mofokeng said that the firearms scheme was started back in 2013/2014 when Molibeli was still the President of LEPOSA.
The firearms scheme was implemented as a way for the LEPOSA members to have licensed registered guns. Moreover, the initiative was done in a way where interested members would pay for their guns in instalments administered through stop-order method, until the last payment and in 2016 the firearms scheme bought 1500 guns.
According to the audit report, LEPOSA received 1500 Ceska Zbrojovka â€˜CZ P -09 9millimetre as well â€˜CZ P-07â€™ 9millimetre firearms imported from the Czech Republic through Maqhubu World Trade Company.
According to Mofokeng, of the 1500 guns purchased, 1329 guns were distributed to the LEPOSA members in 2016 and 171 guns were left which the committee had decided they be sold to the other LEPOSA members who were not part of the scheme for M8 500.00 apiece and the remainder sold to civilians for M9 000.00.
The report further indicates that, the national treasure reported that since her day in the office there have been multiple civilians coming to buy the guns while some said they have bought guns from LEPOSA. In the trading of the firearms, the audit report states that, 159 guns worth M1 431 000.00million are not recorded in the firearms scheme. It further reads that, the firearms made a profit of M666 007.00 which is not recorded in the books.
Mofokeng said that, there are now 12 guns from the firearms scheme left which will be sold to members of LEPOSA once the firearms audit report is complete. He further said that these guns are still in the police headquartersâ€™ armoury.
â€œThe audit report is given to the members of LEPOSA and the current national treasurer cannot account to the missing guns as she started working in the office in January 2020. Also, the LEPOSA national committee takes a three-year term so the current committee was elected in 2019 with members who were still in the previous committee,â€ Mofokeng said.