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Smash human trafficking ring



ELSEWHERE in this issue we carry a story of a massive cartel implicating senior government officials in cases of human trafficking. The allegations are contained in an explosive affidavit presented to the High Court this week by a senior Home Affairs official. The embarrassing allegations are damning and point to official complicity in the whole fiasco. It is imperative that the coalition government led by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro immediately acts in ensuring those implicated face the full wrath of the law. But before it does so, we need to see a thorough investigation to establish what exactly happened. The allegations are so serious that they pose a threat to the very stability of the government. We also note that the allegations are pointing at two senior figures within the Democratic Congress (DC) party. Party leader, Mothibeli Mokhothu and Mines Minister Serialang Qoo, have been named in the court papers. It is absolutely imperative that Mokhothu and Qoo are given a platform to defend themselves. If, God forbid, the two are eventually found guilty then Prime Minister Majoro must not shield the two from censure. Those found guilty must not expect any mercy. The reasons for this strong position are enumerated below. The serious allegations of human trafficking are already putting Lesotho in the international spotlight as a country that is complicit in the perpetration of the despicable crime. Take for instance the recent comments by the United States ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca Gonzales. Gonzales recently called on law enforcement agencies to “investigate the many credible allegations of official complicity in human smuggling and human trafficking”. The US says if Lesotho fails to do so, we run the risk of losing out on the renewal of the AGOA, a deal that is critical in keeping over 45 000 Basotho in their jobs. Secondly, the story raises Lesotho’s international profile as a possible country that is involved in human trafficking. This will feed the narrative that our passports are being parcelled out to criminals. As a result, the international spotlight will soon be on Lesotho. The latest allegations will simply make us a pariah state. No one will want to deal with us. There will be greater scrutiny for Basotho who are travelling on international trips. It is precisely for the above reasons that the government needs to act swiftly to reassure our partners in the international community that we are acting against those implicated in the crimes. Unless we do so, we are damned as a country. It is also important to highlight that Lesotho is not hearing these allegations for the first time. This is an issue that has been bobbling around for years. We vividly remember how a plane carrying Chinese nationals mysteriously landed at Moshoeshoe I International Airport around 2012. Despite the storm, the story generated, nothing much came out of that scandal. There were big names that were mentioned but no arrests were made. That was in spite of what we thought was a clear open and shut case against the perpetrators. Our attempts to combat human trafficking as a country have been feeble and downright insincere at most. And for that, we could pay the price for our ineptitude very soon as the United States and other countries begin to tighten the bolts against countries deemed the worst offenders in human trafficking.

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