M40k to enter Lesotho illegally

M40k to enter Lesotho illegally

MASERU-A syndicate is charging M40 000 to facilitate illegal entry of foreigners into Lesotho, thepost can reveal.
The syndicate’s main customers are Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who want to stay in Lesotho or use it as a corridor into South Africa.
The kingpins are a Bangladeshi based in Ha Nelese and an Indian operating from Teya-Teyaneng.

The recipient of the trafficked people is a Pakistani based in South Africa.
The three, whose names have been withheld for ethical reasons, are said to be working with some Home Affairs officials who also take a cut of the fee.
Most of those trafficked are sneaked into South Africa where they make false claims for asylum or bribe their way to get documents to legitimise their stay.

Those who stay in Lesotho are allegedly helped by Home Affairs officials to get residence permits within days of arrival.
The allegations are made by Rana Qamar, a Pakistani who is alleged to be at the centre of the human trafficking scandal that has rocked the government.

Qamar spoke to thepost from Pakistani this week as his name has been strewn all over the media, government memos and court documents in connection with what appears to be rampant human trafficking.
When the story broke Qamar was portrayed as the mastermind behind the human trafficking operation that has since dragged in some senior politicians.

But Qamar says his hands are clean and those accusing him are trying to protect the “real human traffickers who are charging M40 000 to traffic people into Lesotho”.
Mapeete Jonathan, the Immigration Manager at the Moshoeshoe 1 International Airport, has alleged that Qamar is behind the government’s plan to transfer her because she blocked his human trafficking operations.
Jonathan, who is fighting the transfer, has also alleged that Qamar is connected to some senior Democratic Congress (DC) leaders whom she says could be behind attempts to transfer her.

Mantsebo Matsoanakaba, the Director of Immigration, has also submitted an affidavit making the same allegations against Qamar and DC officials.
Mantsebo says some DC officials and Qamar once tried to pressure her to allow some Pakistanis into the country.
Mpho Tsiame, the senior immigration officer, tells the same story in her affidavit supporting Jonathan’s allegations.

But Qamar, who is married to a Mosotho and has two children, told thepost this week that these allegations are false and “an attempt to destroy me”.
He says he is not running away from Lesotho but is visiting his family and will be back in January.
“Those people accusing me of human trafficking know the truth. They are the ones who know the real traffickers in Lesotho,” he says.

“They hate me because I know a lot of secrets happening at Home Affairs.”
“They are aware that I know some of them are working with one Pakistani in South Africa to traffic people from Pakistani.” Qamar says some officials are also working with an Indian based in Teye-teyaneng to illegally bring people into the country.
He alleges there is also a Bangladeshi based in Ha Nelese who is “also bringing lots of people from Bangladesh”. “They just want to destroy my name, but the real culprits are there. Some of them are working with those traffickers,” Qamar says.

Asked how he knows about the syndicate Qamar said it is because “I know a lot of foreigners who have come into the country that way”.
“They come to Lesotho and after three days they all have residence papers, but we know that it takes months to get them.”
Qamar says most of the corruption is happening at the government’s One-Stop-Shop that processes company registrations, work permits and well as residence permits for foreigners investing in the manufacturing sector.

One-Stop-Shop was designed to facilitate swift registration and documentation for foreigners in the manufacturing sector.
There are desks for company registration, licensing, work permits and residence permits. But Qamar says that system has been corrupted by the human trafficking syndicate that registers dubious manufacturing companies as cover to illegally bring people into Lesotho under the guise that they are coming to work.

He alleges that there is a plastic manufacturing company that has been used to bring dozens of foreigners but has never operated.
“It is because I know these things that they are now coming against me. I was told that there is a lady who wants to kill me because I know about her secrets.”
He says he reported to the police “but they are now investigating me instead of the issues I was complaining about”.
A United States report on human trafficking in Lesotho appears to have forced the government into action.

Released a few months ago, the report said Lesotho was not doing enough to curb human trafficking. It described Lesotho’s laws and enforcement systems on human trafficking as weak.
The Lesotho government now appears to be scrambling into action. It says its transfer of immigration officials from the airport is part of the efforts to stop the rot. It is also investigating several cases.

This week the government deported three Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who arrived at the airport.
Home Affairs Ministers Motlalentoa Letsosa later Tweeted the news of the deportations, saying “the rot is so deep!”

Staff Reporter

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