But ex minister rebuffs and says he, instead helped nip the trafficking syndicate in the bud
Former Minister of Home Affairs Tsukutlane Au has been connected to a human trafficking allegation saga after the current Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa spilled the beans when addressing the National Assembly earlier this week.
Letsosa told parliamentarians that he became aware of this when he was shuffling the ministry management allocated at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport and the One-Stop Business Facilitation Center-OBFC to the Headquarters who in turn sued the ministry citing that his replacement at the post would create an opening for one Pakistani man, Rana Qamar to continue with his human trafficking antiques.
He continued that in their investigations about Qamar, they found a show cause letter addressed to him signed by Au. In the letter, the former minister wanted to know why the Pakistaniâ€™s residence permit could not be revoked after learning that he was no longer residing in the country.
He said it was then that he started wondering why the Qamar person had not been apprehended and sent back to his home country if the ministry then knew about the offence. He said he also wondered what business the Pakistani had with the minister if such could be left as is knowingly.
â€œI requested to be given details of the Pakistani man and his citizenship; to which I found that he is a 35 year-old man who arrived in the country in 2015, got married to a Mosotho girl and had children.
â€œIn some of his files we found a letter dated 14 March 2018 written by then minister indicating that the Pakistani man was not staying in the country,â€ he said.
â€œRE: SHOW CAUSE WHY YOUR INDEFINITE RESIDENCE PERMIT CANNOT BE REVOKED.
â€œThe above subject matter herein refers. I have received information that you no longer reside in the Kingdom of Lesotho in violation of the terms of your residence permit.
â€œYou are therefore, requested to show cause why your indefinite Residence Permit cannot be revoked. You are further requested to answer on or before March 28, 2018. Yours sincerely, Tsukutlane AU (MP), Minister of Home Affairs, the letter read.
â€œThere are no measures that the ministry took to stop this except the letter which was addressed to the Pakistani man about his residence permit. I must clarify that that kind of a permit does not stop one from going outside the country,â€ Letsosa said.
Letsosa stated that he was also driven by a report from the United States of America indicating a sluggish or no attempt at all by the country to mitigate or eradicate the existence of human trafficking which he received after he took office as the Minister of Home Affairs.
â€œThe most perplexing issue is that all these happened three years back. The report from America which was issued this year and that of last year, both state the same sentiments towards human trafficking in the country,â€ he said.
According to Letsosa, when a country fights and wins over human trafficking criminal offences, that country is placed on tier-1. When the country is trying but seems to be lacking somewhere, it is then placed on tier-2. But when the fight is too heavy for the country to fight the offence, or such country has already given up on the endeavour, it is placed on tier-3.
â€œThe important issue to note in the report was that our country is not doing enough to mitigate or eradicate human trafficking. According to the American report which was prepared since February this year, Lesotho was relegated to the Junk Status(tier-3) among the countries which are unable to defeat the prevalence. This means that our friendship with other countries is likely to be affected,â€ he said.
â€œOnce I got privy of the situation I directed the Principal Secretary to arrange the ministry in a way that will enable us to attend to the situation.
â€œWe worked on the Trafficking in Persons amendment bill which was passed by this house. We also arranged the ministry in a manner that would enable us to win over the fight; hence we had to shuffle some of the civil servants from their workplaces in a bid to enhance and intensify our work.
â€œAs we got deeply into this, something new erupted, which I have never experienced since my arrival at the ministry.
â€œSince I arrived at the ministry, I held countless meetings with the senior officers. In all the meetings we had, none gave a report which directly stipulates about the ministryâ€™s knowledge towards people involved in trafficking.
â€œWhatâ€™s surprising was the hesitation by mangers (Airport based managers) and their endeavour to sue the ministry when they were being transferred. We have started apprehending a number of foreigners at airport since it was opened in the past three weeks. This was brought by the strategies we made,â€ he said.
Letsosa also revealed that the residence permit of Qamar was withdrawn by the ministry while the Pakistani was neither arrested nor sent back home according to the law.
â€œThe residence permit of the Pakistani was withdrawn after being suspected in the human trafficking business. Usually when that happens, the owner of the permit is supposed to be apprehended and sued. There is no evidence proving that he was sued. Until this day we have not seen the letter that was meant to withdraw his residence permit. If he was not sued then he could have been sent to his home country.
â€œWe will continue to make investigations about Qamar and those who may be working with him,â€ he said.
However, Au denied allegations of his being embroiled in the trafficking scam but stressed that indeed he had written to the Pakistani and that he even withdrew his residence permit because he heard the allegations that the Pakistani was involved in human trafficking.
â€œYes I wrote to that Pakistani asking him to show cause why I couldnâ€™t revoke his permit, I did that because I received reports that he was associated with human trafficking and I did the right thing because we canâ€™t afford to keep such people in our country.
â€œHe ran away to his country and I have heard that he is back again in the country. If I were to go back to that ministry I would still do the same thing, I am proud about what I did and I donâ€™t regret it one bit. I excised my rights as the minister,â€ he said. fffff