By Mohalenyane Phakela
MASERU – A total of 114 Basotho were deported from South Africa yesterday morning for staying in the neighbouring country without proper documentation.
The deportees were dumped at the Maseru Bridge Border Post and made their way to the District Administrator’s office for assistance.
However, those who live in Maseru left for their homes on their own.
In an interview, the Acting Director of Immigration in the Ministry of Home Affairs, ‘Malereko Molefi, said the deportees had been rounded-up at their different workplaces.
“We learnt through the interviews we had with them that the South African police conduct inspections in different workplaces and homes to find out if there are any foreigners living in their country illegally.
“When found out, they are taken to a place called Lindela (a refugee detention camp in Gauteng) where they are kept until they are many enough to fill a bus or truck which will be used to transport them to Lesotho and other countries, depending on one’s nationality.
“What we do is check whether the people who are dropped at Maseru Bridge are really Basotho by conducting interviews because some do not even get the chance to collect their identity documents as they are often taken from the workplaces while others do not even have any IDs,” she said.
Molefi also said the Lesotho authorities take the deportees to the Maseru District Administrator’s (DA) Office, from where they are then ferried to their different homes, should they require such assistance.
The Maseru DA, Major General Sam Makoro, yesterday told the Lesotho Times his office deals with such cases on a regular basis.
“Almost everyday of the week, one or two people are brought here from South Africa. At times we have around 50 or more, mostly on Fridays.
“Normally, they get here dirty and hungry as they spend a couple of days without eating or bathing when they are at Lindela. I am surprised today to see them clean and healthier,” he said.
Asked what he thought could be done to address the situation, Major General Makoro said: “There is a solution to every problem. I believe if these people could be assisted with open work permits so that the employer could just fill in the company details, then it would not have to come to this.
“They could also be allowed to work without permits or rather be allowed to cross the border without being given limited days of residence.”
One of the deportees, who refused to be identified, said the whole exercise had been a waste of time for the South Africans.
“They just wasted their time bringing me here. Tomorrow morning , I am boarding a bus back to Gauteng because my employer called me while we were on the way here and told me I will still get my job should I decided to return,” she said.