Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe has been accused of undermining the authority of the court by interdicting two police officers from work while they have a case pending before court.
Makgophe is likely facing contempt of court for interdicting two police officers, Moshe Garebamono and Thatayaone Marope from duty on half pay emanating from allegations that they had engaged in sexual relations with police trainees.
Attorneys for the pair, Ofentse Khumomotse and Kabo Motswagole yesterday called for the arrest of Makgophe for unlawfully carrying out the interdict from duty of the police officers despite knowing that there was a case before court. According to court papers, the two attorneys had filed an urgent application before court calling for the interdiction of Makgophe from carrying out his intention to place the police officers on half pay and interdict them from duty as per the December 28, 2018 letter communicated by the commissioner.
The attorneys said a day after their court appearance, Makgophe went ahead and interdicted the pair from duty and put them on half pay forcing them to file an urgent interlocutory application for contempt of court.
Appearing before acting High Court Judge Rahim Khan, Kabo Motswagole argued that continuing with the interdict application before the contempt one would undermine the basic principle effectiveness. “The contempt of court must be argued. We cannot pretend that the interdict has been carried unlawfully,” he said. This was in response to the judge having suggested that the contempt application not be argued as the attorney for the State said they are yet to consult with the commissioner and file opposing papers. Khumomotse added that the commissioner had deposed an affidavit in which he sought to justify why he must be allowed to proceed with the interdiction.
“He clearly undermined the authority of court because he then knowing fully the lis pendens nauture of the interdiction issue proceeds as if it is business as usual by interdicting our clients from the police service,” he said.
At the backdrop of the case are the two police officers who sometime last year were arraigned before the Class Disciplinary Board for an offence of discreditable conduct following allegations
According to Garebamono’s founding affidavit, he was found by the employer to have flouted its rules and regulations since his employment.
Garebamono who has been a police officer for 12 years; now a sergeant and a trainer based at Otse police college said on October 5, 2018 the commissioner took a decision to suspend him with immediate effect from the police service on the basis that he was being investigated for an offence following allegations that he was engaged in an intimate relationship with trainees.
“Consequent thereof, the decision was made that I should be confined to the premises of college at the mercy of the Director of Training of the college,” he explained.
Following their suspension on December 28, 2018 the police officers were asked to make representation showing cause why they should not be interdicted from duty on half salary of which they did not make representation as per the commissioner’s letter dated January 15, 2019. The letter interdicted the pair from duty and placed them on half salary.
“I noted that you have not responded to the quoted letter even though you were given an opportunity to do. However in the view of the serious nature of this matter, I have decided to interdict you from duty on half salary pending the outcome of the charge against you effective today. Your interdiction is in terms of section 13 (2) of the Police Act,” reads part of the commissioner’s letter.
Now in the interdict application, the police officers want Makgophe interdicted and restrained from continuing with a disciplinary hearing against them, which is before the police board.
Also, they want the commissioner interdicted and restrained from interdicting the officers from employment pending determination of their application and be directed and ordered to permit them to report for duty. The case has been postponed to Monday.