Metro Rate Cards

SA detained soldiers finally arrive home

The two arrested LDF members

June 5, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

TWO members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) who were detained for the past 10 months in a South African prison on charges of entering that country illegally will finally be welcomed back home on Saturday.

Privates Rorisang Moepi, 22, and Dumile Tšoeunyane, 26, will receive a heroes’ welcome at a ceremony to be held at the Mejametalana Air Wing in Maseru.

The duo, according to LDF spokesperson Captain Sakeng Lekola was released on bail by the Matatiele Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro is expected to give a key note address at the event.

The two soldiers were arrested on July 10, 2020 while on patrol duty along the Lesotho and SA border.

It is alleged that they were apprehended while trying to stop cross border stock theft.

They face charges of stock theft, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, illegal immigration and contravention of South African COVID-19 regulations (disaster management act that restricted movement into SA and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The two according the LDF were approached by residents of Qacha’s Nek who reported that their animals had just been stolen residents of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

In pursuit of the alleged thieves, the soldiers came face to face with their South African counterparts who instead turned on them and apprehended them.

The arrested soldiers were later handed over to the South African police and charged with the above mentioned charges.

Army sources within the SA army in Matatiele told Metro after the arrest that it was not unusual for either Lesotho or South African security officers to find themselves on the other side of the border unannounced, adding that they are never arrested as long as they identify themselves.
This statement corroborated what the LDF spokesperson Captain Kelebone Mothibi had said earlier when he expressed shock that the SANDF failed to assist them “because this was not the first time that soldiers from either side found themselves beyond the borders of their territory”.
The EWN had quoted Captain Mothibi as having said that “many a times SANDF soldiers cross the border into Lesotho and we don’t arrest them. Last month (referring to July 2020) they crossed the border into Mokhotlong in pursuit of stolen livestock and we helped them to find the animals that were stolen from South Africa and they returned home with them. We cooperate everyday so I don’t understand why our soldiers are not released.”

Captain Mothibi said the soldiers were captured while on patrol, trailing stolen livestock from Lesotho into the Matatiele. Their other team members managed to evade arrest, went back to the army barracks to report.

Enjoy our daily newsletter from today

Access exclusive features and newsletters, along with previews of new media releases.

Metro News Digital

Get Your Online Newspaper

However, highly placed Metro sources within the SANDF and South African Police Service (SAPS) in Matatiele said they have it on good authority from their counterparts in Qacha’s Nek LDF barracks that the two soldiers, while on guard along the border areas, did not report their intended further mission to their immediate commanders at the barracks hence they were found in SA land badly dressed, without official army cards and no back up or references as to who should be contacted in case they come across any problem.
“Our soldiers cannot capture army officers from Lesotho who are on duty. Our relationship in this stock theft prone border areas of Lesotho and South Africa are very cordial. We sometimes hold joint drives to show of our presence or in pursued of stolen livestock.
“The patrol, if it was, was unlike any we have ever had, be it joint patrols or the ones we mount on our own from either side. Like neighbouring countries that work within the same areas, whenever Lesotho or South African soldiers or police cross the boundaries into another country, they would fully identify themselves and state their missions and we always get support from our colleagues on the other side of the boundary,” the source also said.

Share this story


Loading Question

Related Stories