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Lesotho and SA ink visa-free agreement


Lehlohonolo Motšoari

Lesotho and South Africa have reached an agreement allowing Basotho citizens to stay in South Africa for up to 90 days.

The agreement was announced on Thursday by Lesotho’s Minister of Home Affairs, Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs and Police Lebona Lephema and South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi at the Maseru Bridge.

Lephema hailed the agreement as a resolution to one of the key milestones that have been on the table and coming in at a crucial moment when Lesotho is celebrating 200 as a nation.

He urged Basotho to utilise this opportunity fruitfully and abide by the laws of both countries. “This agreement is a significant achievement for Lesotho, and I urge our citizens to adhere to the laws of both countries,” he said.

Motsoaledi explained that the agreement stemmed from a meeting co-chaired by Prime Minister Ntsokoane Sam Matekane and South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, last year.

“We were required by our respective heads of state to meet and settle a lot of issues of mutual interest between the two countries,” he said.

Lephema highlighted South Africa’s concerns regarding illegal immigration through Lesotho.

“South Africa does not have any problem with Basotho travelling and residing for whatever reason in South Africa. However, South Africa has a grave concern regarding third-country nationals who use Lesotho as a conduit to the Republic,” he said.

“This agreement is a significant achievement for Lesotho, and I urge our citizens to adhere to the laws of both countries”

“It is very important for us when the borders are free, that we will be able to control the human trafficking activities. We have already established a team that is working towards this matter at the border,” Lephema also said.

“We are also working with the minister of Police in South Africa trying to curb the crime between our two countries; this means we are beginning to harmonise the relationship between the two countries and we are hoping for the best,” he added.

Both ministers emphasised collaboration on border control and crime prevention. Lephema stressed the importance of controlling human trafficking, while Motsoaledi mentioned working with Lesotho’s police to curb cross-border crimes.

He further clarified a complication regarding the 90-day stay.

“SADC countries are visa-free to each other except DRC. But all over the world when we talk about visa-free, we are talking about a person staying for 90 days in that financial year,” he said.

He added that South African law allows extending the stay to 180 days.

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