Police trainees who are still taking lessons at the Police Training College (PTC) pulled an infamous feat this week on the streets of Maseru intimidating and assaulting members of the public.
The recruits who were seen in khaki uniform became the talk of town when they mercilessly thumped, smacked, and kicked the unmasked citizens which ultimately sent shocking waves on social media platforms.
In response to these, the Police Spokesperson Senior Inspector Mpiti Mopeli explained that as part of their training the police recruits were deployed in Maseru as it is their duty to protect the public and their property.
He mentioned that in almost every festive season, Maseru town gets jam-packed with lots of stampede which increases the rate of crimes.
â€œLMPS informs the public that they will start seeing police recruits in Maseru town and other towns this festive season as the aim is to protect and serve the public as well as their property. Moreover, the police will be everywhere to make the public feel safe and to prevent any criminal activities,â€ Mopeli said.
One of the victims of the trainee police staffers, Phutheho Mokhothotso who works as a parking marshal fell victim of police torture. He was seen in videos that went viral on the social media as police recruits ordered him to do push-ups while they were busy beating him with police short sticks.
â€œThe police recruits found me not wearing my face mask then called me asking about my facemask, I then told them that my mask is torn and I was going to buy a new one but they did not listen that is when one officer asked me to raise my hands. After raising my hands they searched me then found a knife on my pocket and they started beating me even when I was complying with their orders,â€ Mokhothotso said.
Mokhothotso mentioned that he did not suffer any physical injuries on his body he will not be pressing any charges. He stated that, even though their approach was not civilised he admits he broke the law by carrying a knife and not wearing a mask. He also mentioned he was checked up by some of the members of LMPS who know him and he told them that he let bygones be bygones.
Mopeli stated that, the police recruits involved in assaulting some of the members of the public will face heavy punishments as per the police law. He said that such people are free to approach the police headquarters to formally lay their complaints.
The LMPS also released a public apology in relation to the incidents of the police recruits. In the apology letter dated November 24, 2021, the police administration describes how it has been made privy of the incidents of torturing and harassing people in the streets of Maseru.
â€œThis behaviour is unacceptable as the police are governed by the law and must respect the law as well as the fundamental human rights. Disciplinary action has been taken against the perpetrators of these acts. We appeal to the victims of these acts to report to the office of Inspectorate, Complaints and Discipline at the police headquarters. Additionally, the police administration apologises and assures the public that the recruits are being prepared to come to the community in the sense that they are employees and not prosecutors,â€ the letter reads.
Meanwhile, following the incidents, the Development for Peace Education (DPE) has pledged to reach out to the victims of police brutality. The organisation has urged the public as well as the victims who have been tortured by the police to approach their offices in order to work on the way forward.
DPEâ€™s Lemohang Molibeli told Newsday that the organisation aims at helping the victims of police tortures and brutality. He further explained that as an organisation they will be waiting for a directive from the victims as to which way to take and they will comply with their wishes.