from RETHABILE SELLO in Leribe, Lesotho
LERIBE, (CAJ News) – FLOODING of the river bordering Lesotho and South Africa has resulted in fewer than usual number of Basotho illegally crossing back to the neighbouring country.
Conversely, fewer drowning have been reported in the Mohokare River although some Basotho still risk their lives using undesignated entry points.
The river is flooded after heavy rains that have fallen incessantly since October 2021.
Lintle Letseka, Assistant Immigration Officer for Leribe district here in Lesotho, confirmed to CAJ News Africa a drop in the number of migrants crossing illegally to South Africa.
While the officer could not provide figures, he only said the high Mohokare water levels in hinders the use of inflated mattresses and tyre tubes to cross to the neighbouring country.
According to information provided by Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), three cases of missing persons, swept by the Mohokare river at Maputsoe have been reported during festive period.
Last year, no less than seven bodies were retrieved from the river.
In addition, Letseka clarified that the deployment of soldiers during this peak period at Maputsoe Bridge was another reason why migrants were avoiding entering South Africa via this old facility that in the past had been an alternative.
High flows of entries are reported between 06h00 until 14h00.
A decline is noted until activity peaks again at 20h00.
Authorities are anticipating a high number of entries this weekend ahead of schools reopening in South Africa on the 12th and most employees returning to work this coming Monday.
Some Basotho opt for illegal crossing to avoid paying money for COVID-19 clearance certificates, which is a requirement needed to gain entry into South Africa.
Others fear testing positive to the virus and possibly being returned home.
Some individuals do not have passports.
This week, the government of Lesotho, through the Ministry of Health, started providing free COVID-19 antigen tests for its citizens crossing to South Africa.
– CAJ News