As the festive season sparkles to life, the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has unveiled a rather enigmatic narrative for its officers – a curfew that blankets them within their homes during the bewitching hours of the night, steering them away from the magnetic pull of nocturnal revelry.
The LMPS Human Resource Officer, Superintendent Marou, delivered the jolting news in a memo that crackled with an air of severity yesterday, setting the stage for a potentially quieter holiday season for officers.
“It is published for information of all ranks that pursuant to section 13(2) of the Police Act No.7 of 1998; the Commissioner of Police has issued out a Standing Order No.1 of 2023 which operates immediately,” Superintendent Marou, the face of discipline within the LMPS, proclaimed, instilling a sense of urgency in the rather alarming communique.
The message did not just turn heads; it raised eyebrows: “It (Standing Order) provides that, during police operations at night, no police officer shall be found or seen between 2200hours and 0600hours at any public place where alcohol or any intoxicating substances are sold unless such officers are on duty. Failure to obey this order will result in disciplinary measures.”
In the wake of this nocturnal crackdown, officers were handed an extra helping of stern reminders about their commitment to duty and the sanctity of the LMPS reputation.
The memo closed with an abrupt, “Gratefully, all are informed”, leaving officers scratching their heads and muttering into their evening cocoa.
“Is this a joke? Are we now living in a police precinct or a boarding school?” one officer who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said last night, clearly amused by the new curfew on cop socialising.
The edict joins a host of recent directives aimed at reshaping the LMPS image, including Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli’s stern warnings during the unveiling of a fleet of new police cars last month.
Molibeli hammered home the point that officers should handle the cars responsibly and avoid turning them into post-nightclub transportation.
“Under no circumstances should we tolerate officers under the influence in these vehicles,” he admonished.
“Each vehicle will bear distinctive identification for maximum visibility, and if seen where it should not be, I implore the public to report it promptly, so we can hold the responsible parties to account,” he added.
Molibeli underscored in no uncertain terms: “No police officer should ever engage in criminal activities while on duty. Any such transgressions will result in immediate dismissal.
“We have witnessed far too many officers dismissed for such misconduct, and I would rather have a dedicated force of 20, than a multitude tainted by criminal behaviour,” Molibeli declared, drawing a line in the sand.
But controversy’s shadow looms long over the LMPS.
In a recent forum addressing drug abuse among youth, shocking allegations emerged that some officers were caught in a dance with the devil, allegedly moonlighting as drug peddlers and consumers themselves.
this bombshell was dropped by Mokhosi Oa ‘Mangoana (MoM), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) formed by concerned parents grappling with the repercussions of drug abuse on their children.
Pontšo Tumisi, MoM’s Public Relations Manager, didn’t mince words, asserting that some officers were cavorting with drug dealers, possibly puffing on the contraband, and dabbling in a side hustle that contradicted their day job.
“We have been shocked to find out that some of the police officers work in cahoots with drug dealers, and are involved in drug trafficking as a side hustle. Some of them are also drug users,” Tumisi revealed.
Supported by the office of the United States Embassy in Maseru, the forum aimed to amplify public awareness of the emerging ‘pandemic’ of drug abuse and sex trafficking among teenagers.