MASERU — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on Friday said his government will deport a Mosotho man of Ethiopian origin if it is established that he is involved in criminal activities.
Thabane was responding to a question at a press conference when he said the Ethiopian should “go into hiding immediately” because he (Thabane) hated crime.
He said his government will not hesitate to deport the man if it is proven that he is involved in crime.
The Ethiopian, who was not mentioned by name at the press conference, was said to have sued the director of National Security Service (NSS), the Commissioner of Refugees and the Home Affairs Ministry.
“I am told that his matters are in the courts,” Thabane said.
“I hate crime with all my heart. This man, if indeed is found to be committing the said crimes, should be deported,” he said.
The media house that asked the question at the press conference, MoAfrika FM, hosted the Commissioner of Refugees, Mohlolo Lerotholi, on air on Saturday where he complained of the Ethiopian alleging he acquired Lesotho citizenship fraudulently and is possibly associated with human trafficking.
He did not mention the Ethiopian’s name on air.
However, the Lesotho Times understands that Lerotholi was referring to a local businessman of Ethiopian origin, Eyob Eyaya
Asemie, who has been fighting to be sworn in as a Lesotho citizen for years.
Asemie has accused Lerotholi of thwarting his bid to be sworn in as a Lesotho citizen.
Asemie, 34, said he was due to be sworn-in as a Lesotho citizen together with 12 other foreigners early this year by the then Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla but that attempt was foiled.
He claims his name was struck off the roll at the last minute under controversial circumstances.
This was in spite of a recommendation last December by the Ombudsman Alina Fanana that he be granted citizenship.
Asemie accused the National Security Service, police, senior home affairs officials and the Commissioner of Refugees, Lerotholi, of thwarting his bid for citizenship.
This was the third time that Asemie had failed to be sworn-in after allegations that he was a criminal masquerading as a refugee.
Asemie says he first attempted to acquire Lesotho citizenship in August 2010 but when he entered the hall where the ceremony was being held he was ordered out “or the police would be called to throw me out”.
He says he then tried again last March but officials at the immigration department struck his name off the roll of naturalised people.
Asemie claims the department also deleted his name again despite Fanana’s warning on December 29 last year that “blocking his glorious day to take an oath” would be “discriminatory and an abuse of office”.
According to the Ombudsman’s report released in December, Asemie has been denied citizenship because he was suspected of trafficking Pakistanis and some north Africans into Lesotho.
He denies the charges.
He told this paper then that he was not involved in human trafficking.
“I arrived in Lesotho in 2003 as an asylum seeker and was welcomed officially by the then commissioner of refugees, Francis Sefali,” Asemie said.
“All things went well until years later when I applied for citizenship and heard that some people in the government do not see me as a refugee.”
He said he had money to start businesses in Lesotho because his parents run a prosperous enterprise in Ethiopia. He also claims he got a M600 000 loan from the Ethiopian Community Association in South Africa.
“I was a youth leader for an opposition party in Ethiopia and I had to run away because of persecution,” Asemie said.
“When I arrived in Lesotho, I told the authorities that I was not an economic refugee but a political refugee. I was running family businesses in Ethiopia and I was not going to depend on government handouts in Lesotho,” he said.
“I can explain the source of my money. I do not traffic in humans.”
On Saturday, Asemie said he met Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo last week to give the full details of what happened.
“I have another appointment with him on Monday,” he said.
He said he was surprised when he heard Lerotholi talking about his case over the radio.