Fresh twist to Ethiopian refugee’s harassment case

Lesotho Times
4 Min Read

MASERU — The National Security Service (NSS) boss and the acting police commissioner are expected to appear before the High Court on Monday to show why they should not be restrained from stalking an Ethiopian refugee.

Acting High Court judge Justice Lebohang Molete on March 6 called the NSS director Tšokolo Koro and acting police commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza to answer why they should not be interdicted from invading Eyob Asemie’s privacy and violating his right to freedom of movement.

Justice Molete said the two should also tell the court why their subordinates should not also be restrained and interdicted from taking pictures of Asemie’s residence without his consent.

Asemie had also complained that some intelligence and police officers were parking their motor vehicles next to his house.

Justice Molete on March 9 issued an interim order preventing Koro and Mhlakaza from stalking Asemie pending the finalisation of a case in which he (Asemie) is seeking the court to order them to leave him alone.

Asemie told the Lesotho Times that he believed the NSS, police, home affairs principal secretary Retšelisitsoe Khetsi and the Commissioner of Refugees, Mohlolo Lerotholi, have ganged up against him to thwart his efforts to be sworn-in as a Lesotho citizen.

Asemie was supposed to have appeared before Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla together with 12 others to be sworn in as Lesotho citizens last month but his name was struck off the list despite the Ombudsman Alina Fanana’s recommendation.

This was the third time since August 2010 that Asemie had failed to be sworn-in because the state alleged that he is a criminal masquerading as a refugee.

The NSS officers who talked to this paper on condition of anonymity said Asemie is suspected of human trafficking, money laundering and illegal possession of the Lesotho passport.

Sources say the NSS has been monitoring Asemie’s movements for the past four years as they suspect him of being part of a syndicate trafficking in human beings.

“For quite a long time this man has been shuttling these visitors from Moshoeshoe I International Airport to Maseru but their activities in the country are not clear,” the sources said.

“It is suspected that they acquire Lesotho passports without formally applying to be citizens and then cross to South Africa and they rarely come back.”

Asemie told the Lesotho Times he is not involved in human trafficking, illegal drugs or any crime in Lesotho.

“I arrived in Lesotho in 2003 as an asylum seeker and was welcomed officially by the then commissioner of refugees, Francis Sefali,” Asemie said.

He added that all was fine until 2010 when he applied for citizenship and heard that some people in the government did not see him as a refugee.

Asemie told Maseru magistrate Kakapa Tau last month that principal secretary Khetsi was misusing a copy of his passport.

He said when 26 illegal immigrants who had chattered a flight to come to Lesotho in August last year were caught they were found with a copy of his passport.

Asemie told the court in an affidavit that prior to the coming of the illegal immigrants the only government official who had copies of his passport was Khetsi.

Khetsi did not deny in court that he photocopied Asemie’s passport and also failed to justify why he did so.

The court has since ordered that a copy of Asemie’s passport be returned to him.

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