Lesotho has beefed up border security with the deployment of more soldiers to control illegal crossing into the country.
There were already some 1 000 soldiers deployed along the borders, but with the high numbers of Basotho coming back into the country from South Africa, the country has added 285 more army personnel.
They have been dispatched so that they can help other government departments such as the Ministry of Health to screen the returning Basotho for the novel coronavirus.
Earlier this month Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela ordered the army to apply their code of conduct while on duty.
He also ordered the soldiers not be dragged into party politics while executing their duties.
“Please remember that you are going to deal with the already frustrated people,” Letsoela said.
Chairman of the Communication Cluster committee of the country’s National Emergency Command Centre Abeloang Ramakhula said 282 Basotho have already illegally entered the country in the first week of this month.
The National Emergency Command Centre is the body established specifically to make policies for the COVID-19 pandemic. Lesotho has not confirmed any single COVID-19 case.
Letsoela also ordered the soldiers deal with stock theft, which is a common problem in the southern part of the country.
He said the army should always remember that they will work together with the police, health officials, National Security Service (NSS) and District Administrators where they will be based.
He said the soldiers should have a clear mandate because their work would not be of a physical war but that of helping the desperate individuals and saving lives.
He said they have received reports that some people crossing from South Africa to Lesotho are not Basotho.
“Now criminal offences will happen, we should make sure there is no human trafficking going on,” Letsoela said.
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane deployed the army in Maseru on 18 April against unnamed “rogue national elements” he said wanted to destabilise the southern African country. He said the army would also help to enforce a 24-day lockdown against coronavirus in the country.
South Africa, meanwhile, has made efforts to secure its borders during the coronavirus pandemic and has soldiers deployed along its border with Lesotho as well as the land borders with Botswana, eSwatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Under the border protection tasking Operation Corona, 15 companies of soldiers are deployed.