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Hundreds turned back as SA rejects “fake” Lesotho Covid-19 tests


Limpho Sello

HUNDREDS of Basotho nationals have been turned back at the borders over the past week by South African immigration officers who have been refusing to accept their rapid test results for Covid-19 as well as what they said were “fake” Covid-19 certificates from Lesotho.

The move has inconvenienced Basotho, many of whom, were returning to South Africa having spent the just-ended festive season in Lesotho, the Ministry of Health Public Relations Manager, Tumisang Mokoai, has said.

Mr Mokoai yesterday told the Sunday Express that Health Minister, Motlatsi Maqelepo, had since requested a meeting with his South African counterpart, Zweli Mkhize, to resolve the impasse.

Mr Mokoai said they expected the meeting to be held tomorrow. He did not say whether the meeting will be held virtually or in Lesotho or South Africa as both countries have imposed lockdowns including the closure of borders as part of efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are sure that by Monday (tomorrow) things will be alright because we have already presented our issues to the minister,” Mr Mokoai said, adding they expected the two ministers to meet tomorrow to address Lesotho’s concerns.

“The challenge that we have been having is that South Africa is rejecting our Covid-19 rapid test results as well as our Covid-19 certificates, saying they are fake.

“They were saying our rapid tests are fake yet we are using the same tests they are using on their side. We hope the meeting will address our concerns. We want South Africa to accepts our rapid test results and Covid-19 certificates to enable Basotho working in South Africa to go back to work without any challenges.”

Lesotho is currently conducting rapid tests at the border for a fee of M150 per person. These are carried out on people who would not have been tested at the national laboratory or at private medical institutions.

Last week, Mr Maqelepo heard for himself of the rejection of Covid-19 tests conducted in Lesotho when he visited the Maseru border and interacted with Lesotho nationals who were queuing up to enter South Africa.


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