The High Court of Lesotho came to the rescue of three Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) members from the claws of the Lesotho Mounted Police (LMPS) this week.
Justice Molefi Makaraâ€™s intervention came after three LEPOSA executive officials; Lance Sergeant Mathebe Motseki National Treasure, Senior Inspector Teboho Modia President and Inspector â€˜Makatleho Mphetho who was denied access to medication and health facility, were accused of participating in the Unionâ€™s protest at the High Court on March 28, 2022.
The order is directed to the policeâ€™s Special Investigations Unit, Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli, Minister of Police, Lepota Sekola and the Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa to stop harassing the three comrades, release them from detention until the case is heard next Thursday and reveal what kind of case they have against the leaders of LEPOSA.
The Deputy Chairperson of LEPOSA in the Central Region, Mohapi None told this publication this week that the police will have to spell out how their association is different from the rest of the picketing associations and unions making up the Coalition of Lesotho Public Employees (COLEPE).
None further stated that Deputy Secretary General of LEPOSA â€˜Makatleho Mphetho had been denied leave from the Police Headquarters when seeking access to her medication by the men in blue despite her supposed deteriorating health.
â€œAlready when we were here yesterday (Monday) for questioning Mphetho had indicated that she was not feeling well. She asked to be permitted to go and take her medication but she was denied. We reported to the office of Senior Superintendent Motebang Mphahama as he was said to be the one investigating us,â€ None said.
He indicated that this happened after the trio reported at the police Headquarters for questioning about why they had been around the high court grounds where they also sought permission to hold a peaceful industrial action under COLEPE,â€ he said.
He continued that they found members of the police armed to the teeth on Monday when they arrive at the main gate who denied them entrance.
â€œAfter some were denied entrance, the three aforementioned members went in with our lawyer but the lawyer came back later saying Mphahama said he needs all members of the committee. Upon arrival we were asked questions in connection with us going to court on the 28th March seeking permission to go for industrial action. We were questioned from 10:00am to around 17:30 pm,â€ he explained.
None continued that late in the afternoon they were told that all members can go home except for, Mphetho, Modia and Motseki.
â€œWe started to ask what they were charged with for them to be kept in the cells and on whose directives. This was because Mphahama and his team who are said to be investigating said they do not have charges against us but they are directed to take mentioned members into the cells,â€ he said.
He said LEPOSA is an association that prides itself by fighting for membersâ€™ rights and there was no way they were going to let the rights of their members to be violated.
For his part Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the LMPS Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli indicated that LEPOSA members of the Committee were called in on Monday for questioning.
â€œYes three members of the committee were called for questioning. They were called because they were the only ones spotted at the High Court premises. They were also called in their personal capacity not on behalf of their association,â€ Mopeli said.
He said the matter between the police and the members of LEPOSA has no connection with events that happened before and nothing that happened last in accordance with LEPOSA fighting for their rights.
On the other hand, Lesotho Teacherâ€™s Trade Union (LTTU) rubbished the policeâ€™s persecution to LEPOSAâ€™s leadership.
â€œWe are deeply shocked by interrogations made to our comrades after attending the case of Coalition of Lesotho Public employees in the courts of Lesotho on the 28th March 2022. Lesotho is known as peace loving country and therefore, we appeal and plead for the end of these undemocratic and ungodly practices,â€ the release says.
COLEPE members have been wanting to petition The Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro, his Deputy Mathibeli MOkhothu who is also Leader of the National Assembly as well as Speaker of the National Assembly Sephiri Motanyane about their salaries which they want hiked by no less than 25%.
In its presentation of the 2022/23 national budgetary estimates, government through the finance minister promised to hike civil servantsâ€™ salaries by 5% across the board.