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Give Setsomi his dues



“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This poignant quotation is often erroneously attributed to Edmund Burke. Burke never said it. It was probably inspired by John Stuart Mill who in 1867 said: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” The issue here is however not about who said those words but their wisdom. There is no doubt that much of the evil committed in this world would not happen if good people stood firm and fought harder against it. ‘Good men’ (good people) are thus equally culpable for evil if they remain silent and do nothing. This is why I find it infuriating that Basotho are not speaking out against the injustice meted on Senior Superintendent Lebohang Setsomi. The man has been fighting for his job since he returned from exile two years ago. This is despite the fact that other soldiers and police officers who returned from exile are back on their jobs. A little bit of history is important to put this issue into perspective. Senior Superintendent Setsomi left the country in July 2017, after receiving death threats from the LMPS. Earlier, the police had called the then Deputy LMPS Spokesperson, Lerato Motseki, for questioning. She was then interrogated, stripped naked and tortured by her colleagues. Her alleged crime, she later mentioned as she narrated her ordeal, was that she had leaked the RCI number of the murder case of the former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, Lipolelo Thabane. It is alleged that Senior Superintendent Setsomi’s name came up during that interrogation and he was told the police were looking for him. Because there was a likelihood that he might also be tortured or murdered, he immediately fled the country. Some might say he should not have fled if he had nothing to hide. Yet history tells us that our police are capable of torture and murder. Senior Superintendent Setsomi knew of this dubious and gory reputation as a senior police officer. He was therefore justified to flee. It should however be mentioned that a RCI number has never and will never be treated as confidential information. The first person to receive a RCI number is the person who has filed a report with the police. It was thus strange that Motseki was tortured for revealing what is essentially public information There was no need to arrest and torture her. Indeed, it was unlawful, unwarranted and malicious on the part of the LMPS. Senior Superintendent Setsomi was told that the police were looking for him in connection with Motseki’s arrest and he ran for his life. In 2017 the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s mediator in Lesotho’s political turmoil, retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, started facilitating the reform process. Around October 2017, a delegation of Cabinet Ministers led by Chief Thesele Maseribane had a meeting with Senior Superintendent Setsomi in Pretoria where the issue of his return was discussed. That meeting, was followed by another around 2019. The government was represented by the then two ministers, Tefo Mapesela and Leshoboro Mohlajoa. Soon thereafter, another delegation which comprised the then ministers Samonyane Ntsekele and Mokhele Moletsane was dispatched to meet him and other people who were in exile. Ramahetlane Bereng, the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) officer who was in exile with Senior Superintendent Setsomi, was present in all those meetings. On September 24, 2019, the government issued a statement announcing that Bereng, Senior Superintendent Setsomi and others would come back home. Their return was facilitated by Honourable Motlohi Maliehe who was acting Minister of Police. Upon their return, Bereng rightfully resumed duties at LCS. Senior Superintendent Setsomi expected the same treatment within the LMPS but that never happened. In March 2020 Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli told him he would write a letter to facilitate his return to work. But until today Compol Molibeli has not written that letter and Senior Superintendent Setsomi is yet to return to work. He has exhausted all available remedies at his disposal. He has consulted, pleaded, begged, cried and knelt before the previous Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Police to no avail. To put this into context, it is important to juxtapose his treatment with that of soldiers who also fled the country and returned after the intervention of SADC. Colonel Matela Matobakele, Lieutenant Colonel Lekhooa Matlali, Captain Lehloa Ramotšo, Corporal Mofomobe, Corporal Lefoka, Second Lieutenant Mokhothu, Second Lieutenant Ranthimo, Private Mosaku, Private Lepota and Private Motsieloa. Do those names ring a bell? These are the soldiers who fled to South Africa during political turbulence between August 2014 and June 2015. They joined Thomas Thabane who was already in exile. Thabane returned home and supported a motion of no confidence on the government of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. Mosisili pre-empted the motion by calling an early election which Thabane won and immediately facilitated the return of soldiers and police officers from exile. All the soldiers and police officers re-joined the army and the police. The discrimination against Senior Superintendent Setsomi is so obvious that it does not need to be explained. The fact that he has not been allowed to re-join police clearly shows that he is being unfairly treated. The bosses haven’t told him or the public why he is not being allowed to resume duty like others. It is gulling that the government has not intervened to deal with this blatant injustice. What is Senior Superintendent Setsomi’s crime? What laws of the country or police regulations has he violated? Ramahooana Matlosa

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