Pretoria averts diplomatic fallout

Pretoria averts diplomatic fallout

MASERU – A diplomatic fallout has been averted after South Africa promised to dispatch a top emissary to Lesotho to apologise to the King for the humiliating treatment he suffered at the hands of police at the Maseru border.
South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, said she will travel to Lesotho to apologise to the King.
This was after Foreign Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi expressed his displeasure at the King’s treatment. Sisulu and Makgothi met in South Africa yesterday.

The meeting triggered a scramble from the South African government as it seeks to avoid a fallout.
There was speculation last night that some irate Basotho were planning a protest at the border.
The King was travelling from Durban when his motorcade was stopped by South African police officers at the border who claimed that it did not have clearance.

This was despite that the King’s office had been granted the clearance before crossing into South Africa.
There is an arrangement that diplomats travelling between the two countries should seek clearance five hours before they cross the border. A two-hour notice is given in emergency cases.

The police officers are said to have detained the car for more than an hour as they insisted that there was no clearance. They also searched the cars.
The King’s aides also produced the clearance but the officers would not budge. Meanwhile the king was in the car.
Eventually one of the King’s aides asked Foreign Affairs Minister Makgothi to intervene.

The minister then called South Africa’s High Commissioner who in turn instructed that the motorcade be immediately released.
The following day Makgothi wrote to the South African government through the South African High Commissioner. That letter was delivered to South Africa.

The Lesotho High Commissioner in South Africa also delivered the same letter. The Foreign Affairs Minister at that time, maite Nkoane-Mashabane’s office received the letter but did not respond.
A few weeks later Prime Minister Thomas Thabane wrote to then President Jacob Zuma seeking audience to discuss the matter but there was no response.

Thabane also tried to discuss the matter with Zuma on the sidelines of the African Union meeting held in Ethiopia in late January.
Yesterday Makgothi said Lesotho was satisfied that South Africa was treating the matter with “the seriousness it deserves”.
“They have sprung into action and that means they are working on a solution. My counterpart has said she will be coming to Lesotho to apologise to His Majesty,” Makgothi said.

Staff Reporter

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