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Bikes stolen at Roof of Africa

BIKESStaff Reporter

MASERU — Four bikes and two trailers belonging to the Roof of Africa Rally participants were stolen at two hotels this week. Southern Africa’s premier off-road race for motorcycles, the famous “Roof of Africa”, is annually held in Lesotho in November. The bikes and trailers were stolen at Maseru Sun Cabanas and at Lesotho Sun Hotel and Casino on two different days, police said. “It was reported that two bikes and a trailer were reported missing at Lesotho Sun hotel. The bikes were stolen at the hotel on Wednesday at around 8:30 pm,” Senior Superintendent Mofokeng Kolo said.

“There were two other bikes and a trailer that were stolen at Maseru Sun Cabanas. The incident is said to have occurred on Thursday morning at around 2 am,” he said. Kolo said they got information on the incidents from camera footage at the hotels. Two of the bikes belong to a local company while the other two belong to a visiting participant. He said one of the trailers was found abandoned near Fokothi.

“Last year there were no reports of thefts and assaults on the participants and we were hoping it was going to be the same this year,” he said. The police are investigating the cases. Kolo said the organisers of the event together with the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture sensitised members of the public about the importance of the event to the country.

Tourisim Minister ‘Mamahele Radebe issued a statement saying the success or failure of a tourism destination depends on being able to provide a safe and secure environment to its visitors in the era of social media. “Let us all be aware that one unhappy tourist can influence many, especially in this era of social media,” she said.

“It is my prayer that Basotho will heed my plea to change this negative behaviour towards tourists,” Radebe said. She said Basotho should work together to put Lesotho on the international map as the destination of choice. Radebe said her ministry was concerned about recurring incidences of the harsh and inhospitable treatment of visitors. “On top of the list is begging, followed by stone throwing incidences and corrupt practices by some of our civil servants especially at roadblocks and other service points,” she added.

She said safety and security are vital to providing quality in tourism and encouraging repeat visits. Dubbed the Mother of Hard Enduro, this year’s edition which started on Wednesday and ended yesterday has seen no serious injuries among the 405 bike riders drawn from Europe, Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. Last year’s total distance was 450 kilometres but this has since been reduced to a total of 340 kilometres.

This year’s edition has been marred by the death of a seven-year-old boy who was run over by one visiting biker in Ha Tsolo, Maseru. The suspect will appear in court, police said. After last year’s surprise victory by 16 year-old South African sensation, Wade Young (previous winners, Graham Jarvis and three-time winner Chris Birch arrived in Lesotho with their sights set firmly on reclaiming their titles.

The Roof of Africa has always attracted top international competitors, and this year is no exception. Besides previous winners Jarvis and Birch, top Austrian rider Andreas “Lettie” Lettenbichler also participated in this year’s race. The Hemmingway brothers Dan and Ben were here, and they were joined by experienced UK racer Justin Carter, who has plenty of experience racing in Africa.

Also fresh from a successful European enduro season is Austrian enduro Champion Lars Enoekl, who will be racing in Lesotho for the first time. The official closing and prize-giving ceremony was held at Lesotho Sun hotel last night. By the time of going to print, unconfirmed reports said Jarvis was the winner of this year’s Roof of Africa.

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