Majoro “pained” by soldiers’ detention in SA
PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro is “pained” and frustrated by the delay in releasing two Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers who were arrested and detained in South Africa on charges of illegally entering the country, stock theft, robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
Private Rorisang Moepi (22) and Private Dumile Tsoanyane (26) were arrested in Matatiele, Eastern Cape on 19 July 2020 by members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) after they allegedly pursued South African rustlers who had stolen livestock from Lesotho.
They remain in detention despite high level government talks to secure their release. Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu last month led a government delegation for talks with South African government officials aimed at securing their release.
But the duo remains in custody amid indications that their bail application will only be heard on Tuesday at the Matatiele Magistrates’ Court.
Speaking on the issue on local radio yesterday, Dr Majoro said he was “pained” by the prolonged detention of the Private Moepi and Private Tsoanyane.
“We are pained by the fact that our fellow countrymen have not been released up to now,” Dr Majoro said.
“We have done all we could at government level and we were assured that everything would be in order. However, it would seem that every week the Matatiele court comes up with new unexpected setbacks. Every week we prepare to welcome our men home but there is always a setback.
“We were initially told that a police officer had stalled plans to set the soldiers free. We were surprised because we did not understand what the police officer had to do with this case.
“Following my special envoy (Mr Mokhothu)’s visit to Pretoria the matter seemed to have been resolved but the prosecutor later stalled the court proceedings. Last week when we thought things were in order, the magistrate delayed the case. Yesterday the case was postponed to Tuesday,” Dr Majoro said.
He said the soldiers should not have been arrested in the first place because they were carrying out normal duties in terms of the joint operations by the two countries’ security agencies to combat stock theft.
“Our security agencies have monthly meetings with their South African counterparts to discuss their joint operations to fight stock theft. The operations take place in both countries and so we were surprised to hear that the two soldiers were arrested while carrying out the usual tasks required of the army personnel,” Dr Majoro said.
LDF spokesperson Captain Kelebone Mothibi said they hoped the soldiers would be released soon.
“We hope they will be granted bail so that they can come home,” Captain Mothibi said.