Top cop arrested, freed in SA

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

ASSISTANT Police Commissioner (ACP) Seabata Tutuoane was arrested over the weekend by his South African Police Service (SAPS) counterparts for allegedly flouting the neighbouring country’s immigration and Covid-19 regulations.

According to a SAPS representative, Colonel Athlenda Mathe, ACP Tutuoane was arrested on 2 January 2021 for allegedly entering South Africa without presenting his travelling documents and being cleared by South African immigration officials.

ACP Tutuoane is also said to have failed to present a certificate proving that he had been tested and declared free of Covid-19.

Colonel Mathe said ACP Tutuoane was subsequently taken to the Ladybrand Magistrates’ Court where he was cautioned and discharged on Monday.

“We can confirm that Mr Seabata Tutuoane, the assistant commissioner of the Lesotho police, was arrested and found guilty of flouting the immigration act after failing to present himself before an immigration officer at the Maseru Border Post,” Colonel Mathe told the Lesotho Times.

“The assistant commissioner was however, cautioned and discharged by the Ladybrand Magistrates’ Court. He has been deported back to Lesotho,” added Colonel Mathe.

In a separate interview with this publication this week, ACP Tutuoane denied that he had flouted the South African immigration laws and regulations requiring all travellers to present valid certificates showing they were free of Covid-19.

“All my papers were in order when I was arrested. What actually happened is that I contacted my South African counterparts to help me jump the queue at the border as it was congested and I just needed to do a quick transaction at a bank in Ladybrand. I was actually allowed to go through without stamping my passport.

“But on my return, I was stopped in my tracks by a different immigration officer who refused to accept my explanation that an immigration officer who had been on duty earlier on had allowed me to cross into South Africa without having my passport stamped. He then told me I was under arrest.

“I was then taken to Ladybrand where I was interviewed at the police station and charged for illegally entering South Africa without stamping my passport. I was later released and told to appear in court on Monday where I was subsequently released,” ACP Tutuoane said.

He is not the first high-ranking police officer to be arrested for allegedly flouting South Africa’s immigration laws.

In May 2020, Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Mahlape Florence Morai was also arrested at the South African side of the Maseru border on allegations of failing to have her passport stamped before crossing into South Africa.

Two Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers are still languishing in a South African prison since their arrest in the neighbouring country in July 2020.

The two- Privates Rorisang Moepi and Dumile Tsoanyane- were arrested in Matatiele, Eastern Cape on 19 July 2020 by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) after they allegedly pursued South African rustlers who had allegedly stolen livestock in Lesotho.

They were detained on charges of illegally entering the neighbouring country, stock theft, robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

They are expected to stand trial on 15 January 2021.

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