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How NSS agent fell out with bosses



MASERU – THE National Security Service (NSS) intelligence officer accused of leaking secrets to Machesetsa Mofomobe has been having battles with her bosses over a transfer for months.

An investigation by thepost has revealed that the fights started when the officer, Ithabeleng Pitso, broke her arm during an NSS training programme last year.

Sources familiar with the incident say Pitso did not get medical help for two weeks and was forced to continue training with a broken arm. Other officers injured during the training were allowed to get medical help.

Documents seen by thepost show that after her treatment the NSS started making moves to transfer her to Quthing.

Pitso objected to the transfer and submitted a medical report recommending that she should not move to a cold place and should be near “adequate medical attention”.

Her private doctor said he “humbly recommends that the patient be stationed in a locality close to adequate medical attention and away from severely cold environments as they elicit episodes of pain and retrocede recovery”.

The NSS however demanded that she brings a second medical opinion from a government doctor.

With the NSS unrelenting, Pitso hired a lawyer to fight on her behalf.

On February 2 this year the lawyer wrote to the NSS Director General, Pheello Ralenkoane, pleading with him to reconsider the decision to transfer Pitso to Quthing.

The lawyer first complained about the NSS’ failure to timeously provide medical assistance to Pitso.

He said Pitso suffered the injury at the hands of her trainer.

The lawyer cited the medical report which he said indicated that Pitso was now permanently disabled and her life had deteriorated since the injury.

He also reiterated the medical report’s recommendation that Pitso should not be posted in a cold place and should be close to a medical facility.

Ralenkoane responded on February 28, accusing Pitso of refusing her superiors’ instructions to see a government doctor for “an alternative medical opinion”.

He said the second medical opinion was based on the fact that the NSS has “credible information” that Pitso’s “health status” is “not as alleged but merely projected as severe with the purpose of preventing her transfer to Quthing”.

“The information cannot be shared at this juncture as it is currently part of a wider investigation which is going on”.

Ralenkoane however said the NSS was giving Pitso another chance to seek a second medical opinion before deciding on the transfer.

He said the NSS arranged for her to be examined at the Makoanyane Military Hospital on February 27.

Ralenkoane said if Pitso refuses to see a doctor at the Makoanyane Military Hospital he would transfer her on March 3.

He also said Quthing had adequate medical facilities and private doctors to assist her.

“Furthermore, Quthing is not an overly cold place as it is in the lowlands of Lesotho,” he said.

On February 28 the lawyers responded, telling Ralenkoane that Pitso’s private doctor had referred her to Queen ’Mamohato Hospital where an examination by a government doctor had confirmed the findings of the initial medical report submitted to the NSS. The lawyers then insisted that Pitso should not be transferred to Quthing.

thepost understands that Pitso was now considering suing to block her transfer.

But while she was still in the process of briefing her lawyer, the NSS made its move and it wasn’t the transfer to Quthing but an interrogation by several intelligence officers who confiscated her phone.

In April, Pitso was slapped with seven disciplinary charges for allegedly violating section 37(1) of the National Security Service Act.

The section says: “A member or any other person employed in the Service shall preserve secrecy and aid in preserving secrecy in respect of a matter or information which may come to his knowledge in the exercise of his powers or performance of his duties and functions under this Act and shall not disclose or communicate the matter or information to any unauthorised person or permit a person to have access to any documents in his possession or custody, except in so far as the communication is required to be made in compliance with this Act or any other law.”

Pitso was accused of revealing classified information to Mofomobe. The information, according to the charge sheet, included intelligence reports, sources of information as well as names of other NSS officers and their pictures.

She was also accused of fabricating her medical report and the names of the sources in the intelligence reports she submitted. Other charges were that she tried to make a recording of her meeting with her superiors and sent it to Mofomobe.

The NSS also alleged that she violated Section 25 of the National Security Service Act by expressing support for the BNP and Mofomobe.

thepost could not establish if the NSS disciplinary hearing proceeded. It is also not clear if the NSS plans to make the alleged transgressions a criminal case.

The National Security Service Act says anyone who violates Section 37 faces a fine of up to M30 000 or 15 years in jail.

Staff Reporter

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