Man shot helping border jumpers
By ‘Mantoetse Maama
MASERU — A 33-year-old Mosotho man was shot and injured after helping some Basotho to cross over to South Africa (SA) illegally through Mohokare River yesterday morning.
The suspect was caught on the SA side by a member of South African Police Services (SAPS).
Police spokesperson, Senior Inspector Lebona Mohloboli, confirmed the incident.
“The man was caught on SA side after helping people who do not have passports to cross over to SA from Lesotho illegally. It was reported that when a police officer appeared at around 1 am people who were with him ran away,” Mohloboli said.
“The suspect then attacked the police officer by hitting him with a stick and the officer retaliated by shooting him on the jaw,” he said.
The suspect was admitted at Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital where he is under police guard.
As soon as he is released he will be arrested to face charges.
On Tuesday afternoon Lesotho Times visited Maseru Bridge Border gate to assess the situation after many people claimed that there were long queues following the new requirement where Basotho passports have to be stamped before crossing to the SA side.
In the past people travelling to South Africa from Lesotho had their passports stamped on the SA side only.
Some Basotho men and women with luggage close by were sitting outside one shopping centre while others were sitting near the railway line that runs to the industrial area.
One of the travellers who refused to be identified said they were waiting for someone to assist them to cross into SA because they don’t have passports.
“The security is very tight during the day so we will wait until its night then we will cross to South Africa. I don’t have a passport and with the new changes that I need to have an identity card before getting a passport will waste time as I need to get back to work,” the traveller said.
She said the men charge them R250 to cross over to SA through Mohokare River.
“They strictly charge M250 as a fee and those who have less will wait until those who have enough money are served first,” she said.
Another traveller said when it rains it is the best time for them to cross as police get into the offices to hide from the bad weather.
“When it rains it is the perfect time for us to cross as officers are not vigilant due to the weather conditions,” she said.
She said she failed to get an ID and a new passport because she did not have the appropriate documents.
“I had a letter from my employers with the hope that it would help speed the process but they said I delayed with the letter. The letter was written in December so when I brought it to them in January they said it was outdated. They also told me that the documents were not properly written,” she said.
She said she decided to use the illegal method as she would lose her job if she waited for a longer time.
Some claimed they had been at the border since Friday but they don’t have enough money for the “fee”.