â€¦as 159 guns worth over M1.4million vanish
Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Holomo Molibeli and the Public Relations Officer of the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) Motlatsi Mofokeng say that some 159 guns worth M1 431 000.00 have been reported missing from the police records.
Taking different turns at different instances, the duo says that the guns have gone missing and that no one has been held liable to account for their disappearance as well as the over M1.4 million in respect of their sale at the hands of LEPOSA.
However, each blames the other for being complicit in the scheme meant to import the firearms and sell them to police officers in the country particularly members of LEPOSA.
While Molibeli blames 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.