. . . as Turkish suspect is busted trying to leave the country on a forged Lesotho passport and with a suspicious white package
A 38-year-old Turkey national was arrested at the Maseru Bridge Border Post on Friday morning as he tried to leave the country on a forged Lesotho passport.
The man was also found with a “large” package of a white, powdery substance which was immediately sent for laboratory tests amid strong suspicion it could be a narcotic drug, possibly heroin.
According to Police Spokesperson Lebona Mohloboli, the white suspect was found with a Lesotho passport, number RB 058136, which was immediately identified as fraudulent by the automated biometric border-control system that had just been introduced that morning at the Maseru Bridge Border Post.
Senior Inspector Mohloboli on Friday told the Sunday Express: “I can confirm the arrest of a Turkish man today. The suspect was arrested on the first day of the migration of our border controls from manual operations to high-tech electronic management systems at the Maseru Bridge Border Post.”
According to Senior Inspector Mohloboli, the suspect is being detained at the Police Headquarters and is likely to appear in court this week.
“The suspect will be kept in police custody pending a report from the Police Forensic Laboratory, regarding the white powder he was carrying in two white plastic bags.
“The laboratory will also weigh the powder to establish its mass as the plastics were not marked. We have kick-started investigations into the matter and our laboratory is expected to give out the results on Monday,” Senior Inspector Mohloboli said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Department of Immigration Services on Friday introduced a state-of-the-art border-control system at the Maseru Bridge Post.
According to the Department of Immigration Services’ Acting Director Malerato Molefi, the transformation from manual operations to the high-tech electronic border management systems comes after the model was first introduced at the Makhaleng Border Post in Mohale’s Hoek and Moshoeshoe I International Airport.
Ms Molefi said passports would now be scanned by computers while in the past, the department used to check whether the travel document matched people’s facial appearance with the naked eye.
“We are going to be registering people’s fingerprints and photographs taken when entering the border-gates as their passports would be scanned,” Ms Molefi said.
“The department would begin with nine computer workstations and we will scan passports, verify information, allow or deny entry or departures and registration of transactions.”
According to Ms Molefi, the ministry intends to have nine border-posts automated, namely Caledonspoort, Ficksburg Bridge, Peka Bridge, Maseru Bridge, Moshoeshoe I International Airport, Van Rooyen’s Gate, Makhaleng Bridge, Tele Bridge and Qacha’s Nek Bridge.
However, Ms Molefi said the Sani Pass, Ramatšeliso’s Gate, Onglu’s Nek, Monontša Pass and Sephapho’s Gate would remain manually operated.
“The advantages of the new system is that it provides detailed and statistical reports, facilitates processes of frequent travellers, registers all arrival and departure transactions, allows proper identification of fraudulent documents and checks travellers against stop lists.
“This system will also assist us with information about criminals who are being hunted by the police as they would be flagged as wanted persons when their travel documents are scanned,” she said.
Ms Molefi emphasised the automated systems would also reduce cases of corruption at the country’s border posts.