Home affairs minister Joang Molapo has called on Basotho who were abused while in South African holding camps to come forward and register their names and whatever evidence they might have of the alleged maltreatment.
The South African authorities have been on an intensive drive of late, to rid the nation of illegal immigrants whom they take to detention camps before deporting them to their respective countries.
But Basotho have bitterly complained of sexual and physical abuse while in the holding camps, with the men claiming to have been electrocuted in the genitals, while women accuse the wardens of forcing them into prostitution and pocketing the proceeds.
However, Molapo this week said he had taken up the issue with his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, resulting in the establishment of teams in both countries to investigate the issue.
“The teams will investigate the allegations of maltreatment so that criminal cases can be opened against those who committed the crimes,” Molapo said.
“The South African minister of home affairs, Naledi Pandor, has agreed that action will be taken against anyone found to have been involved in the abuse.”
Molapo further said he would need evidence to present to Pandor during their next meeting, which would also discuss the possibility of establishing special immigration arrangements between the two countries.
Immigration Director, Mpheletso Molefi, further explained: “The two ministers had a meeting earlier this year and Pandor said she would look into the matter. The follow-up meeting will come just after the South Africa national election in May this year. So we thought it wise to collect the names of the people who claim they were abused.
“Minister Pandor said she would take the necessary steps if investigations will reveal that abuse really happened during the detention of the illegal immigrants.
“We ask people to bring any kind of evidence to be presented before her in the next meeting.”
Molefi further said those who failed to pay fines for overstaying their allocated days in South Africa, should also come to the ministry to register their names.
“There have been complaints that the South African immigration office has been imposing hefty fines on people who stay longer than their allocated days.
The ministers will also discuss that issue and hopefully agree on an arrangement to give more days to people who work in South Africa.
“This will work like the six-month permit that allowed people to travel between the two countries without having their passports stamped at the border gates,” Molefi said.
Molefi noted the six-month permit system was phased out in 2010 after the South African government realised it was being abused.