MASERU — A man and a woman who are naturalised Basotho citizens of Ethiopian origin are on trial for alleged human trafficking.
Yoseph Girmay Tesfagaber and Adanech Beru Woldegioregis, who acquired Lesotho citizenship after coming in as refugees, are accused of trafficking an Ethiopian woman in June last year.
They are alleged to have smuggled one Adanech Tesfaye Agegnehu into Lesotho.
It is however not clear where Agegnehu was coming from.
Tesfagaber, 41, and Woldegioregis, 42, jointly own the Fish n More restaurant in Maseru.
They first appeared before Magistrate Monyake Hlabanyane on January 2 but were not asked to enter their pleas.
Magistrate Hlabanyane ordered them to bring a Mosotho who would act as their surety if they wanted to be granted bail.
And on January 5 they presented one Tlelima Hlalele to court as their surety to show that they were committed to remain in Lesotho until their case is finalised.
The magistrate had instructed that the person who act as their surety should be a Mosotho with “immovable property in the country of not less than M25 000”.
The court then granted them
M1 000 bail each. If the two skip bail Hlalele would lose his property.
During their court appearance on January 2 prosecutor Mongolo Mohapinyane told the court that the duo should get stringent bail conditions because they are likely to flee the country.
He said it would be easy for them to flee to other countries because they had managed to get into the country as refugees.
“We ask that they be given strict conditions to see to it that they stay in the country,” Mohapinyane said.
But their lawyer, Advocate Tefo Macheli, argued that the two suspects should be granted free bail because they were now Lesotho citizens and the chances of them fleeing the country were slim.
The two have stayed in Lesotho for the last 10 years, Macheli said, adding that they had also cooperated with the police during the investigation.
He added that it was highly unlikely that Tesfagaber and Woldegioregis would flee because they owned a business in Lesotho.
Macheli also promised that his clients would report to the police every time they wanted to cross the border.
They are expected to appear in court again on January 16.