By: Mpho Shelile

MASERU- Sesotho Media and Development (SM&D) held a media round in significance to update the security sector reforms, related to the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and to comply with human rights with the support of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). 

Executive Director Mrs. Mamolefe Fetlane indicated that their mandate is to promote social justice and human rights in Lesotho. It aims to bring about positive changes and to endow communities with a passionate team and put in place accountable Institutions. Sesotho media works in collaboration with COSC and LMPS on this initiative to forester a culture of transparency, cooperation and respect for human rights.

 There have been claims/reports that some of the LMPS employees have been violating human rights in their quest to perform their duties. Investigations by SM&D, NUL students and representatives from the LMPS are being conducted on such harassments. Stating that actions are being taken against the perpetrators with the help of key stakeholders from the private sectors, society and security for monitoring and evaluation.

Together they hope to come up with policies that do not only meet national standard but reflect the needs and aspirations of the society, “I invite all of you to join hands with us in this war, let us strive for Lesotho where the security sector holds the highest standard of integrity, justice, and respect of human rights”, she expressed.

Talking about milestones achieved thus far adv. Thakane Sello Lephoto proclaimed that they have travelled the nine districts of Lesotho except Qhacha’s Nek to sensitize people on police brutality.  Noting that the project mainly focuses on the internal and external accountability of the (LMPS) alongside the media.

This is done to ensure that whatever is reported is being under proper investigation. She said they have opened a new department within the (LMPS) called “Expirations, complains and discipline”, which aims to ensure that police officers are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and also looks into the well-being of the officers and ensuring that they have the necessary equipment to facilitate their work efficiently and effectively.

She further stated that some cases run cold because they are not properly investigated and the LMPS does not cooperate with the media. However the project aims to end the delinquency between the two.

 Adv. Lepholo highlighted that in the pipelines they have an expert who is producing a documentary based on this very project, and the film will be released at the end of the project in 2025. The storyline is about a life of a police officer based in the rural areas of Lesotho, and the difficulties he endures in this daily work life, however even in those conditions still thrives for excellence.

Showing that they face challenges which at times hinders their professional delivery on their duties. She says five student from NUL under the faculty of law are assisting them with the project. The students have produced a comprehensive report which was used as a tool in the compilation process.  She applauded them for their implacable work.

The dean faculty of law representative Mrs Mats’epo Mosito conveyed words of gratitude towards SM&D saying they would not have been able to reap the benefits coming from the EU if it were not for their partnership. She said they gave SM&D their best performing student and they are very proud of the work they have achieved thus far. She also expressed her hopes for this project, saying it has assembled them to become not only better student but even better citizens. She advised them to hold on to the skills they have acquired for they do not know what will happen once they graduate, and that opportunities may arise once they complete their studies.

“You have really helped with the graduate program, we are highly thankful for you have assisted with the problem of unemployment, we find our top performing student unemployed and idling which may result in a negative outcomes”, Said Mrs Mats’epo

Mrs. Marealeboha Makau who is a research consultant appreciated the SM&D for an opportunity they offered to work hand in hand with them, she also thanked the EU for their financial support. Stating that her role was to provide a researched report on the work done, which detailed the outcome and challenges faced. Informing that the project was conducted through three different stages which were; to have facilitated screenings that were provided by SM&D, conduct interviews and make analysis on all of them.

She said she personally respects the LMPS and appreciates their help. “There is an English saying that says, walk a mile in my shoes, never criticize someone without having walked a mile in their shoe”, expressed Makau.

Adding on Mrs. Makau emphasized that the security sector in our country faces a lot of critics which makes their job very difficult, and the media only writes what is on the surface, without digging deeper. She pleaded with the citizen to understand what the LMPS is about, and sensitized that it is our responsibility as the citizens, community and the leaders to ensure that the LMPS works in a collaborative effort with the rest of the country.

The LMPS needs help financially. The LMPS representative Senior Assistant commissioner Mrs. Matsepang Ramarikhaoane thanked the SM&D and EU for their support, stating that they have never had it easy and she said they have always looked for ways to eradicate police brutality, however with the lack of support they had then it would not have worked but the kind of support they are receiving now she wants to ensure everyone that they are to give it their all.  

On behalf of the minister of local government, chieftainship, and home affairs and police retired Colonel Tanki Mothae says trust between police and the community is crucial and that alone means that when it is broken all fails. He stated that our police do not have enough resources to work alone. He also made it clear that there will be no mercy for those who abuse their powers and those who break the law. “It is our duty as the government that we confront the issues head on and uphold justice and respect for human rights”, he said.