SA, Lesotho in talks after soldiers, border officials arrested

Lesotho police handcuffed two SANDF soldiers and two other South African border officials, who went into that country to fill up with petrol without passports.

FILE: SANDF uniform. Picture:EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa and Lesotho are in talks following the arrest of SANDF members in the kingdom and the arrests of Lesotho soldiers in South Africa.

Lesotho police handcuffed two SANDF soldiers and two other South African border officials, who went into that country to fill up with petrol without passports.

Officers say the four contravened COVID-19 travel restrictions.

However, observers see this as retaliation for two Lesotho soldiers who were caught crossing into South Africa while pursuing alleged livestock thieves a month ago.

South Africa is at odds with the Mountain Kingdom but the departments of foreign affairs and international relations in the two countries appear to be helpless.

The Lesotho defence force’s efforts to get its two soldiers released have so far failed.

They were arrested a month ago while pursuing alleged livestock thieves.

They were expected to apply for bail on Wednesday, but their application was postponed to the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the Maseru Magistrates Court has remanded two SANDF soldiers and two border officials in custody after their court appearance on Friday.

They were arrested while filling up petrol in Lesotho without passports in an apparent retaliation and they were charged with contravention of immigration and COVID-19 regulations.

South Africa’s High Commissioner Sello Moloto said the developments were worrying and he hoped engagements between the army commanders of the two countries would resolve the impasse.

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