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Police officers ‘detained’ over pay protests



MASERU – POLICE officers who engaged on a go-slow to press for payment of outstanding salaries say they were “detained” at the Police Training College (PTC) on Tuesday where they were denied food and water for 12 hours. They told thepost yesterday that they were lured to the training college on the pretext that they were going to be informed about Police Day preparations.
To their surprise and agony, they were allegedly met with harassment from their superiors.

They were also denied access to food and water and were forced to do push-ups amid verbal insults, according to sources and their trade union.
The police said the harassment was tantamount to torture.
The officers resorted to a go-slow to push for the payment of a six percent salary increment that has been pending since 2015. Others reported for duty, but did not carry out any actual work as part of the protest action.

A source told thepost yesterday that police bosses were furious that the juniors had dared respond to disciplinary action notices with “recklessness”.
This was after the law enforcement agency wrote to the protesting officers threatening to dismiss them from work.
The police officers also faced accusations of disrupting crucial services as well as the rehearsals for King Letsie III’s birthday celebrations held in Quthing in July.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said he was unaware of the issue.

“I have been preparing for some function at my home outside Maseru and I am not aware of the incident,” he said.
He has previously said the go-slow should be done within the confines of the law and must follow proper procedures.
But sources and the police staff union said the harassment did take place.

“They were forced to do push-ups several times as part of the torture. And they were kept at the PTC premises from 7am to 7pm,” a source said. “They were also denied access to water and food”.
Another source said the police officers were ordered to withdraw their responses and to apologise to the police top hierarchy.
“Some did but others refused to budge,” the source said.

The Lesotho Police Staff Association (Leposa), which represents the interests of police officers, said it has dragged the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli to court over the issue.
Sources within Leposa said “we have written a letter to the commissioner asking him to stop interfering with our members”.
The source further said the union has asked the court to interdict Commissioner Molibeli from meddling with the affairs of Leposa members.
About 90 percent of the police officers are registered with Leposa.
Thaba-Tseka district had the highest number of police officers who were slapped with disciplinary letters asking them to show cause why they should not be fired for embarking on the protest.

Majara Molupe

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