Lesotho: Govt Condemns His Majesty's Ill-Treatment By SA Immigration Officers

Photo: SA Govt
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press release

The Lesotho Government has condemned the manner in which head of state His Majesty King Letsie III was treated by South African Immigration officers at the Maseru Border Gate on his way home on February 20 this year.

In his statement at the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Monyane Moleleki who is also leader of the House said the incident happened to His Majesty and his delegation upon his return home from Bloemfontein.

Mr. Moleleki said His Majesty's delegation and his vehicles were thoroughly searched and waited at the border post for almost an hour, describing the incident as shameful.

"The treatment to His Majesty and his delegation was not normal and not respectful deserving Heads of State and Governments based on international laws and agreements," he highlighted.

He said the treatment therefore humiliated and belittled His Majesty as Head of State in a disappointing manner.

The Deputy Prime Minister said Protocol Officer, Mr. Moeketsi Tsiboho, accordingly informed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the incident, who in turn alerted South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, Mr. Sello Moloto and requested him to come to his office for an explanation of the incident.

He commended the South Africa's High Commissioner to Lesotho for his response to the matter, saying he acted swiftly as in less than five minutes His Majesty and his delegation were allowed to pass.

He said Mr. Makgothi wrote a letter to his South Africa's counterpart, Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu informing her of the incident and letting her know that the Government of Lesotho is not happy of His Majesty's ill treatment by the Immigration Officers at the border post.

Mr. Moleleki added that the letter also asked for the South Africa's Government to take necessary disciplinary measures against those involved and thereafter inform the Lesotho Government of such steps.

He said after failing to get a reply from the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the Prime Minister, Dr Motsoahae Thabane contacted President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa regarding this incident, saying it is only then that the two countries' Foreign Affairs Ministers held a meeting on March 27, where Ms. Sisulu pledged to visit the country soon to ask for forgiveness of His Majesty on behalf of the South Africa's government and make preparation for President Ramaphosa's visit.

Again, Mr. Moleleki also informed Members of Parliament that the Minister of Home Affairs has also worked hard to address issues relating to movement between the two countries borders by ensuring that Basotho working in South Africa get special permits which would allow them to work and reside in South Africa without their passports being stamped.

He said Basotho who had applied for the special permits were to stay in South Africa for not more than 30 days but unfortunately many of those who had applied could not get them in time hence their passports were destroyed at the border gate.

Mr. Moleleki said South Africa's President Mr. Ramaphosa has since instructed Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Melusi Gigaba to address the issue of services at the borders between Lesotho and South Africa hence the minister is expected to visit Lesotho to address the issue.

Meanwhile, the House has adjourned for Easter recess until April 20 this year.

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