MASERU – Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has written to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa apologising for criminal activities perpetrated by illegal Basotho immigrants and has promised to address the situation. In his correspondence, Majoro reportedly indicated that his government takes cognizance of the impact the criminal activities by Basotho who mostly stay in South Africa illegally, and the impact these have on the relations between the two countries.
In an interview with this publication, government’s spokesperson Tšoinyana Rapapa said the criminal activities that have been reported to the government and those reported by South African media, that include rape, robbery, human trafficking, terrorism and killings have not only affected South Africans but every person residing in the country. He said as a result the cabinet has made a decision and directed the security sector to be alert and address the criminal activities stating that the perpetrators of these crimes do not only commit them in South Africa but also in Lesotho.
He said the country is determined to do whatever possible to bring an end to criminal activities by famo gangs, including charging them and even testifying against them in South African courts if need be. Rapapa said, among others, the two countries have a joint bilateral commission of co-operation (JBCC) agreement which commits the two countries to a strategic partnership aimed at promoting economic integration between the two states and Lesotho is determined to protect and honor the agreement.
These statements come after rising criminal activities and killings of in South Africa by Basotho have been reportedly putting a strain on the relationship between Lesotho and South Africa. The recent criminal incident that has captivated the interest of both the local and South African public and aroused discontent is the gang rape of eight women shooting a music video at Krugersdop by suspected Basotho illegals. The victims were also robbed, together with their crew, of possessions. The perpetrators of the rape have been reported by the South African media to be Lesotho citizens.
Also a month ago, 97 illegal miners were arrested at Heildelberg in Gauteng and charged for illegal mining, human trafficking, possession of explosives, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and for being in South Africa illegally. The incidents are just a few of the many that were reported recently this year which include but not limited to 158 famo gangsters that were arrested for being in South Africa without documentation to attend a funeral of one of their members. They were arrested in the Free State on June 5 following a shootout with members of the South African Police Services and South African National Defence Force.
The gang was accused of not being documented and refusing to stop at a road block when asked to by police officers and for being in possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. South African Police Services released a statement stating that around midnight of June 5, a convoy of 13 Toyota Quantums refused to stop at the roadblock and when SA police tried to force them to stop, the gang allegedly started shooting at the police officers who in turn returned fire.
The statement stated that after the cars stopped, on being searched, 158 passengers were found travelling without documents authorising them to be in SA, two fire arms and ammunition were found hidden in one of the cars. Another incident of killings and crime that has been recently reported and Basotho are featured in is a mass shooting at a tavern in Soweto on the Sunday July 10 that saw 15 people being killed while others were critically injured.
In a recent interview with this paper Lesotho High Commission Consular to South Africa, Selimo Thabane, said the rising crime by Basotho is putting the relationship between the two countries at risk further articulating that committing crime and killing people has become frequent among some Basotho living in South Africa. He said the implications for these actions might be severe for Lesotho if the South African government decides to take action, especially now that Basotho are under the radar of South African authorities.
He said crimes are mostly committed by Basotho who are in SA illegally, further articulating that there are Basotho who abide by laws and even formed policing committees that ensure Basotho in South Africa abide by law and report those that do not. “One day South Africans will be tired of these crimes and killings. And when they do, they will take action and report the matter to their government which will in turn be forced to take actions that unfortunately might not be good for Lesotho. “The killings and crime committed by Basotho are putting the country’s relationship with South Africa in massive jeopardy,” Thabane said.