By Ntsebeng Motsoeli
MASERU — The Minister of Home Affairs, Joang Molapo, said the governments of Lesotho and South Africa will investigate allegations that scores of Basotho were abused while awaiting deportation.
Over 4 000 Basotho were last week deported from South Africa for staying in that country without legal documentation.
Allegations were made that prison warders in South Africa allegedly pimped female Basotho detainees while males had their private parts electrocuted.
Some made claims over local radio stations that their money and other personal belongings were take away from them.
Molapo said the two governments have set up teams to investigate the matter and deal with the perpetrators.
“The teams will investigate the allegations of maltreatment so that criminal cases can be opened against those who committed the crimes,” Molapo said.
He said the South Africa Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor, has agreed that action will be taken against the perpetrators.
“She (Pandor) said that the matter had come to her attention and would be discussed and investigated with police authorities. She asked us to assist her with evidence of abuse in order to enable her to take the necessary steps.”
Molapo said the governments of Lesotho and South Africa were exploring ways to ease fines that are imposed on migrants who overstay in South Africa.
South Africa charges between M2 000 and M3 000 for overstaying.
“The fines are too heavy and most offenders end up not paying and shunning the border gates. In a way we are pushing them into the hands of the exploiters,” he said.
In most cases Basotho prefer to throw away their passports and claim they don’t have any than pay the hefty fines.
Molapo said a technical committee comprising home affairs officials from the two countries would find out how many passports were abandoned by Basotho.
He proposed that the fines be reduced.
Meanwhile, a press release from the home affairs ministry said that Pandor was still considering a proposal for a visa for economic migrants