The Deputy Minister of Home of Affairs Maimane Maphathe said Basotho who overstay in the Republic of South Africa will have to endure harsh sanctions.
Maphathe said this while addressing the National Assembly yesterday on a question of whether the ministry is aware that at the South African border there are Basotho who have had their passports destroyed by the passport control personnel, had charges amounting to thousands of Maloti imposed against them. Some had bans issued against them for periods of up to five years.
He was also requested to address the house on bribery extracted from Basotho at the border control for them to be able to cross the border which Maphathe denied citing that the matter has not come the ministry’s attention.
“Every country has its law and regulations and South Africa is not an exception in all these, it came to our attention that most Basotho who visit South Africa don’t comply with statutes regulating immigration and they get penalties according to South African laws.
“The penalties are meted according to an offence one committed. When such a person arrives at the border, Home Affairs officers stamp the passport with a red stamp to indicate section 34 of the law they contravened,” he said.
He said the act of using red stamp does not mean the passport has been destroyed.
“After realizing that some people get this penalty without committing any offence, I met with the Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa to rectify the issue.
“It was also agreed that wherever there seem to be a problem, it should be taken to the manager of Maseru boarder gate to listen and fix that problem, and then it should be solved so that the person can continue to visit South Africa,” he said.
He said the matter of demanding money from people when they have overstayed was stopped in 2014 when a new sanction of undesirability was put into place.
He was however asked whether the message written on a passport that says it is the property of the government of Lesotho, does not imply that no one should temper with that property so much that it end up being destroyed.
“The red stamp matter is not to destroy the passport but an indication that such a person has committed an offence and according to the law, that person is not allowed to enter in the country for a certain period.
“There are international laws that each country has to give respect to the other, but that does not mean when you have a passport and entering into another country illegally, or staying unlawfully, that passport will have more power over the law of that country.
Asked what would happen when there is a sick patient who needs medical attention in South Africa, but has a passport stamped with red stamp, he answered that when one has been banned it means they cannot have access to that country until the penalty is finished.
“Penalty does not matter whether one is healthy or sick and we can’t interfere. “I should also remind the house that bribery is unlawful in Lesotho. The law that governs civil servants of Home Affairs shows that accepting bribery as unlawful act,” he said.