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Molibeli contempt case postponed

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE High Court has deferred to 13 September 2022 the case in which 12 embattled police recruits want Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, jailed for two months for contempt of court.

The matter was postponed by Justice Tṥeliso Mokoko on Monday after Commissioner Molibeli’s lawyer, one Advocate Matete failed to show up in court.

When Adv Matete failed to show in court, the recruits’ lawyer, Adv Rethabile Setlojoane, called him to remind him of the court appearance. The former said another government lawyer, Adv Thomas Thakalekoala, was taking over the matter.

However, Adv Thakalekoala’s two mobile numbers were unavailable. One Adv Motikoe eventually arrived at court and went straight into the Justice Mokoko’s chambers along with Adv Setlojoane.

Upon their return, Adv Setlojoane told this publication that the matter had been postponed to 13 September 2022 because Adv Thakalekoala could not make it to court.

“The matter has been postponed to 13 September 2022 to allow Adv Thakalekoala to prepare himself and also to allow him to file opposing papers so that we can argue the matter,” Adv Setlojoane said.

The recruits want Commissioner Molibeli jailed for two months for ignoring two court orders issued on 24 May and 29 June barring him from removing the recruits from the Police Training College (PTC).

The recruits have been hounded by Commissioner Molibeli since May 2022 when they joined the PTC for being medically unfit to begin training while the others were dismissed due to their “unbecoming behaviour”.

They petitioned Justice Mokoko on 17 August 2022 after Commissioner Molibeli had two days earlier slapped them with letters to “show cause why” they should not be suspended with full benefits from the police force pending his appeal against their reinstatement order.

The applicants are Moliehi Dlamini, Mokhethi Damane, Lebaka Matiea, Kopano Ramokhoro, Ngaka Lenka, Mojela Gugushe, Thabang Maime, Lechesa Lepheane, Poloko Sekhohola, Refiloe Kheleli, Moorosi Kalane and Sebongile Cekwane.

Commissioner Molibeli and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are first and second respondents respectively in the application.

The recruits argue in their latest application that Commissioner Molibeli is in contempt of court for seeking to suspend them even though the court had ordered against their removal from the PTC.

“The first respondent (Molibeli) be kept in jail for a period of 60 days for contempt of court,” they say.

They also want Commissioner Molibeli to pay the cost of the lawsuit.

“The facts giving rise to the present application are so disturbing and this court will frown at the abuse of power on the part the first respondent meted out on us and this court,” Ms Dlamini states in her founding affidavit filed on behalf of all the applicants.

The applicants say Commissioner Molibeli’s conduct is disturbing and also demonstrates how low he takes the judicial system and the authority of the courts.

The desperate attitude displayed by the police boss ought to be dealt with by the court “once and for all” so that it can regain the confidence of the public.

They also argue that Commissioner Molibeli cannot ask them to make representations why they may not be suspended based on the same set of facts which were rubbished by the court.

This amounts to usurpation of the judicial function and a total disregard and disrespect of the powers of the court, they say.

The applicants were first slapped with “show cause” letters on 15 May 2022 asking why they could not be expelled from the police for having “characters which are not satisfactory”.

They then rushed to court on 24 May 2022 and Justice ‘Maliepollo Makhetha ordered that they should remain in the police service until finalisation of their application seeking the nullification of Commissioner Molibeli’s intention to expel them.

Nonetheless, Commissioner Molibeli fired them the following day.

The applicants filed another application seeking the review of their expulsion. Justice Mokoko’s order on 29 June 2022 reinforced Justice Makhetha’s order of 24 May 2022.

Justice Mokoko ruled that Commissioner Molibeli’s decision to expel the recruits was “irregular and wrongful and therefore, null and void”.

However, the recruits were denied entry into PTC on 30 June 2022 and Adv Setlojoane rushed back to court suing the commissioner for contempt of court.