MASERU — South African police on Saturday arrested 383 heavily armed Basotho immigrants at a Famo music concerns in Welkom.
The concert was at President Brand Mine Shaft premises in the mining town of Welkom.
Of those arrested 89 were women who were believed to be illegal immigrants.
The arrested individuals are believed to be members of Seakhi, a famo music group that hails from Thabana-Morena and Likhoele in Mafeteng district in Lesotho.
Welkom police spokesperson, Stephen Thakeng, told the Lesotho Times that the police had recovered guns, knives, an axe and fighting sticks during the raid.
“Seventeen fire arms were seized with live ammunition, they comprised 11 9mm pistols, four 3.8 special pistols and two 7.65 pistols. Besides these 12 knives, one axe and 127 sticks were also found,” Thakeng said.
The arrests followed a tip-off from the local community that there would be armed illegal immigrants at the music concert, Thakeng said.
“We got the information that they would be armed with illegal firearms. The operation responded at about 8pm and dragged into the next morning at around 5.30,” said Thakeng.
Officers from the Welkom detective services, mine security, the Hawks and Bloemfontein Tactical Reaction Team and Public Order Policing conducted the raid.
A press release from the SAPS office in Welkom said the police had confiscated an undisclosed number of DVDs as well as bottles of liquor.
The arrested immigrants face charges of violating South Africa’s immigration laws.
They are also facing charges of illegal possession of firearms.
Welkom station commander Colonel Ansie Foley said the police “will continue to hit hard against illegal immigrants and illegal mining and for us to receive information from the residents is a clear indication that they are sick and tired of crimes committed in their residential areas”.
The Lesotho Times could not verify the names of the Seakhi musicians who were billed to perform at the show.
Seakhi is a group of musicians which has been embroiled in a bitter fight with another famo group called Terene.
The fight between the two groups has claimed over a hundred lives over the last two years.
Thakeng said although none of the arrested men had confessed that they are Seakhi members it was clear from the manner they were dressed that they belonged to the group.
Seakhi members are commonly identified by their trademark Letlama blanket.