MASERU — Free State Province Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Dan Kgothule on Friday called for closer ties between South Africa and Lesotho for the benefit of the two peoples. Kgothule was in Lesotho together with a delegation from the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Kgothule was speaking at a memorial lecture to honour 42 people who were massacred by the apartheid regime in Maseru in 1982.
The ANC delegation arrived in Maseru on Thursday and retraced “the liberation route” where some of the liberation cadres died. Kgothule told the lecture attended by ANC struggle veterans and senior government officials that Lesotho had played a critical role in emancipating the South African people from apartheid.
He said in recognition of the role played by Basotho and in marking the ANC’s centenary celebrations the South African government had committed itself to improving the lives of Basotho. “Some of the commitments to Lesotho have already been finalised while some are still in the pipeline, hence premature to announce,” he said. Kgothule said South Africa is aware of the problems that Lesotho nationals are encountering at the borders when travelling between the two countries. He said South Africa is committed to finding a lasting solution to the border crisis as the present situation had the potential to sour relations between the two neighbours. “We have resolved to remedy this border issue because we are one with Basotho,” he said. “I have and still do continue to wonder why there are borders between Lesotho and South Africa, maybe a lasting solution would be to open up these borders.”
Kgothule added the South African government had already struck a deal with Lesotho to help improve its sporting facilities. “We have just stricken a deal with the Minister of Sports and Recreation in Lesotho, Thesele ’Maseribane, to improve sports in the country,” he said. He added they were in the final phase to change the name of the N8 road that links Bloemfontein and Maseru to King Moshoeshoe Memorial Road in honour of Lesotho’s founder Moshoeshoe I. He said they will also build a monument in Maseru to remember the 1982 massacre that saw 12 Lesotho nationals die together with 30 ANC political refugees at the hands of the apartheid soldiers. “A monument will be built in Lesotho in recognition of the act of solidarity shown by Basotho who not only housed ANC cadres but also lived and died with them,” he said.