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Lead-Petitioners demand soldiers’ release


Mohloai Mpesi

The Basotho Lead-Petitioners has served the South African High Commission with a petition regarding the incarcerated Lesotho soldiers in Matatiele, South Africa.

Eight months have gone-by since the trans-border arrest of the two Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers Privates Dumile TÅ¡oeunyane and Rorisang Moepi, who were detained last year July 19, 2020 at Matatiele, when trailing Basotho livestock from the alleged cattle poachers.     

The case of the apprehended soldiers sent shocking waves across the country with the public demanding the release of their militants.

The Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro sent instead, heralds comprised of the Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, Minister of Home Affairs Motlalentoa Letsosa, then Minister of Defence and National Security Price Maliehe, then Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo, Ministry of Trade and Industry Thabiso Molapo and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Machesetsa Mofomobe to the neighbouring South Africa and engage in diplomatic talks with the authorities.

Besides seeking a release of LDF detained soldiers, the Majoro emissary was also mandates to solving matters relating to animal theft, as well as the re-opening of the border gates for trade and business purpose.          

However, upon the return of the envoy, Mokhothu stated that they were fighting the war they couldn’t win since the matter is before courts of law in South Africa, although they wanted matters to be solved diplomatically and politically until there is peace between the two countries, saying that was beyond them.

Shortly after that, two South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers were also detained in Lesotho for entering the country without documents, but were released on bail.

On Wednesday this week, the Lead petitioners read the petition to the South African High Commission First Secretary Political Rudolph Stroebel.

“By virtue and in exercise of powers vested in you by Foreign policy and international law and of all powers enabling him in that behalf of the South African Government be pleased by and with advice of a relevant body, in regard to our concern of two detained Lesotho Defence members, privates Dumile Tšoeunyane and Rorisang Moepi, in Matatiele on July 19, 2020, when trailing Basotho livestock from cattle rustlers,” Serobanyane said adding that they wrote to the Commission last month but did not receive response.

“The SANDF members and two officials were arrested for entering Lesotho without proper documentation and convening the rules and regulations of this country. We know that they were released after the RAS Minister Naledi Pando made a statement demanding an immediate release of the four RSA officials. They were released on bail.

“Our soldiers were trailing the stolen livestock of Basotho, which the security agencies were convinced by the relevant documents of that livestock indeed were that of Basotho.

“Despite being convinced by the LDF identity cards, these soldiers were badly beaten up, tortured, harassed, humiliated, filmed while beaten up and insulted by SANDF members. They were charged with stock-theft and later the charges were dropped and new charges emerged. 

“We want to outline here, that the team of legal representatives consisting of media practitioners were denied access in RSA when attending the case of the two soldiers in Matatiele, which we find undemocratic and uncalled for behaviour of neighbouring country that we contributed so much to attain freedom and enjoy democratic dispensation.

“We therefore, rightfully so, demand the release of the two Lesotho’s soldiers detained in Matatiele RSA,” the petition read.

“We have honour and birth right, as rightful owners of the Kingdom of Lesotho, the indigenous inhabitants and possessors of this soil. We did write to you Excellency South African High Commission on February 03 2021.

“We, the Basotho lead-petition, entire Basotho Nation and the People’s Forum in RSA, we have learned with great disappointment that his Excellency has not yet responded to our demand letter or contracted any of the aforementioned contacts in this regard,” he said.

The petition further indicated that Lesotho contributed towards the refuge of the Republic of South Africa from the white regime apartheid era. 

“The Basotho nation has without a doubt contributed massively in the fight against the apartheid in RSA respectively. So much was donated to pursue this course and other means to afford full protection to the RSA refugees. We contributed with our resources and lives to maintain a victory for ending of apartheid era. We lost our fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, grandfathers and relatives; they gave up their lives died on the enemy-line.”

“In December 1982, Basotho were attacked by the SA Defense Force, in the execution mission of killing of the anti-apartheid Movement’s Leadership. Many died. Lesotho is still to recover from the damage and destruction caused by that act during the Lesotho massacre, as RSA has not yet paid any portion of money as the resolution and ruling of the United Nations for the mass destruction caused by the SADF.

“It goes without question RSA played a major role in toppling of the Dr. Leabua’s regime in 1986 by the members of the LDF. It is evident that six months down the line, after the soldiers took over the reigns of government, the LWHP treaty which the government of Lesotho did not agree to sign in few occasions for various reasons, was entered into by the two undemocratic government,” the petition reads.

“In September 1998, the SANDF invaded Lesotho. They went to our royal palace, lowered our constituted flag, and raised the RSA flag in Lesotho’s place. An act that undermines the sovereignty of other country, an act of terrorism that portrays taking over or annexation of territory, those rouge members are still out there and not yet faced the might of law.

“As an act of terrorism and an oppressor, the SANDF captured LDF arteliary and left Lesotho exposed to any possible enemy attack.

“The Democratic elected RSA government is still yet not accounted for the death of LDF members that were murdered cold-blooded at Katse dam by the SANDF, not to mention facing the prosecution for barbaric acts.

The petition further indicated that, “It is at this moment we call for immediate steps to be in advance the peace talks facilitating the restoration of our unlawfully annexed land territories. We are now landlocked and suffocated by the Republic of South Africa economically, and that leads to security, political and economic instability in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho which South Africa dominates a lot.

“We however, engaged the United Nations to foster in their experience the facilitation of restoration of our ceded land and territories, in whatever the form or pretext for such alienation.

“We have also demand the compensation of our used minerals and resources the Republic of South Africa enriched themselves with, and developed other provinces except Free State and part of Eastern Cape (originally known as Ha-Kobo) belonging to the Basotho nation.

“While awaiting the response to our petition from honourable office and that of the Republic South Africa, and the release of our detained soldiers in Matatiele, we want to remind the Republic of South Africa that it is in possession of our annexed land and territories that were comprised of in the Basutoland before the colonisation of the British.

“Recalling its resolution 1514 (XV) 14 December 1960 embodying the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and the peoples, and its resolution 1654 (XVI) of 27 November 1961 by which it established a special committee to examine the implementation of the declaration. “Having considered chapter V of the report of the special committee on the situation with regard to the independence of the colonial country and peoples, relating to the question of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland.                

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