05/06/2014 After two days of tensions between taxi associations from South Africa and Lesotho the Maseru Bridge border post was open as normal. Immigration operations came to a hault when people and trucks with goods were barred from enetering SA from Lesotho. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - Five minutes is all it takes to bribe your way past immigration processes and enter Lesotho at the busy Maseru Bridge border post.

The Pretoria News put the system to a test and came out with results that should make immigration authorities of both countries hang their heads in shame.

For just R300, a Lesotho national who had stayed in South Africa for more than a year had his first passport stamped while he waited near the taxi rank.

In just five minutes, the passport was returned, all in order and reflecting that the man had just crossed into South Africa.

The man who assisted him, dressed in full Lesotho immigration uniform, advised him to hang around the taxi rank for a while before walking across the bridge and going home.

Crossing too soon will raise suspicion, he said.

Police officers in uniform, as well as other people in plain clothes roaming around the border post indicated the possibility of a syndicate.

Mantsebo Matsoanakaba, manager of immigration services in the Lesotho government, said tightened laws had unfortunately increased corruption at Maseru Bridge and other border posts.

Matsoanakaba said the new law which came into effect this month would make things worse.

Under the new law, any Lesotho national who stays in South Africa for more than the prescribed 30 days is denied access to Mzansi for a specific period.

“This will only increase corrupt activities at the border post,” she said.

Matsoanakaba said the two neighbouring countries should consider reverting to the past agreement, where Basotho were allowed a six month stay in South Africa before being considered to be illegal immigrants and getting deported back to their country.

“People in countries such as Lesotho are always going to go to big economic powerhouses like South Africa for job opportunities.

“The more they are restricted, the higher the corrupt activities will be at border posts,” she advised.

Pretoria News