The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) through its Infantry Battalion 11 has confiscated 80 illegal firearms from community members especially those in the highlands of the country. Many of these weapons were smuggled from South Africa.
Most guns have been found in four districts of the country which are Leribe, Butha-Buthe, Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka.
The confiscated guns include rifles and pistols whose owners have been rubbed off their serial numbers. Dangerous weapons like swords and knives have also been recovered.
LDF spokesman Colonel Senatla Damane said most of the guns have been smuggled from South Africa with an exchange of dagga which is prevalent in the highlands of the country.
Damane said some guns have been smuggled by Basotho who work in South African mines. Some of the weapons may have been used in conflict over illegal mining.
Damane said it appears that Basotho easily access guns while in South Africa and easily bring them into the country because of the porous borders.
Damane said while the guns are in the country, they are used to kill people while others are used in stock theft.
This, he said, is common in the highlands of the country where Basotho have big cattle posts.
He said they were able to recover the weapons through their military intelligence operations.
At some places, they found herd boys carrying guns to protect their animals against cattle rustlers.
To control cross-border animal theft between the two countries, Damane said they usually have temporary posts in the hotspot areas.
He said their success in collecting illegal firearms was also made possible by tipoffs from community members.
Meanwhile, one LDF member is in Military Police detention after allegedly soliciting bribes from Basotho who were crossing to South Africa through the Qacha’s nek border post. The LDF said the soldier was asking for M50 (R50) from the people to give them a pass into South Africa. The army said the soldier would appear before the courts as soon as the investigation has been finalised.