MASERU — The Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety Lesao Lehohla yesterday said the government has phased out the old temporary travel documents and will introduce a new document that had security features that will not be forged by criminals.
Lehohla made the announcement at a press briefing.
He said the document would no longer be usable for travel purposes between Lesotho and other countries.
Instead, Lehohla said, the government had since designed a new temporary travel document that has unique security features that that could not be forged by criminals.
“The new document will have unique features which would make it easy to tell apart the original and the fake. We are just waiting for an affirmation from my South African counterpart,” he said.
He said there were a lot of unlawfully printed travel documents because the original had no security features.
“We have decided to put a hold on the use of the temporary travel documents. South Africa and Lesotho governments will not accept the use of the document anymore,” Lehohla said.
“It has been misused because of its lack of security (features). We will introduce a new temporary document once the two governments have reached an agreement.”
He however said the Ministry of Home Affairs is currently speeding up the processing of passports so that temporary travel documents are only issued and used in emergencies.
“There is a massive action we are taking whereby we are going to make sure that people get their passports within two weeks after application.
“This will help us to curb the sole use of temporary travel documents. They will only be issued in emergencies as had always been planned.
“We have separated the passport service from the department of immigration. We have removed passport the office from the messy Pitso Ground premises.
“We have also hired 60 temporary staff to take care of the backlog of applications which stretch back as far as 2008.
“We are also planning to make a tightly and well secured department in Mohale’s Hoek where we will produce passports. No one will be allowed into the building apart from people who work there. We hope to increase production to at least 4 200 passports a day.”
He urged the public to report officers who demand bribes in exchange for services. He said disciplinary measures would be taken against corrupt officers.
“The public should take rude and corrupt officers to task. They should tell them, ‘I need services. I am a taxpayer.’ They should report such officers to the principal secretary. We might be able to kick them out.”
Currently it takes more than three years for Basotho to get a passport.
Many have had to make do with the temporary travel documents.
Some have resorted to bribing passport officials to get their passports early.
Officials in the passport department have been accused of demanding bribes of up to M1 000 to process a passport quickly.
Last week the passport services department announced that it had relocated its offices from Pitso ground to the old Disaster Management Authority offices near the Palace of Justice to curb corruption and reduce congestion.