Arrest of Lesotho deputy top cop in SA highlights contrast in lenience on VIPs

Lesotho Deputy Police Commissioner Seabata Tutuoane was arrested at the weekend for not stamping his passport when he crossed into South Africa.

SA border post with Lesotho. Picture: Wikipedia.

JOHANNESBURG - The arrest of yet another security officer on the border between Lesotho and South Africa again placed the spotlight on relations between the two countries and the double standards used for VIPs and ordinary citizens.

Lesotho Deputy Police Commissioner Seabata Tutuoane was arrested at the weekend for not stamping his passport when he crossed into South Africa.

He was released on bail by police before he appeared in court and then cautioned and discharged after appearing in court on Monday.

Two junior officers of the Lesotho Defence Force were arrested in Matatiele, Eastern Cape, four months ago while chasing alleged livestock thieves. They remain in custody because they had no documents.

A few weeks later, South African National Defence Force and South African border officials were arrested in Lesotho for crossing the border to fill up their vehicles with petrol without documents. They were released on bail a day later.

During the festive season, hundreds of Lesotho domestic and farmworkers who had overstayed were arrested, while others had their passports cancelled and were declared undesirable for five years.

But for Tutuoane, the treatment was different.

The National Prosecuting Authority said he told the Ladybrand Magistrate’s Court that he asked South African officers on duty for permission to enter the republic to attend to a pressing personal issue and he was allowed because he has diplomatic status.

However, upon his return, there was another shift on duty, and they arrested him.

He was released on bail before appearing in court and even though he pleaded guilty, he was cautioned and discharged. But unlike his fellow countrymen, not declared undesirable.

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