South African Security Forces arrest 158 ‘illegal immigrants’ near Lesotho border
Arrests were made once all the vehicles were stopped and searched at the roadblock.
Close to 160 alleged illegal immigrants were arrested by the police and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) during a roadblock at the R702/R26 crossing, an unguarded part of the border between Lesotho and the Free State, in the Wepener area.
Police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele said 158 people were arrested on Sunday for being in the country without proper documentation.
Among those arrested were five males, aged 24 to 39, for possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
“At about 12.45am a convoy of 13 Toyota Quantums, a grey Toyota Regius, red Volkswagen Golf and grey BMW 523i approached the roadblock, where the first Toyota Quantum failed to stop as indicated by the official on the roadblock,” said Makhele.
“Shots were fired from the minibus and the officials … returned fire. One male was slightly injured during the crossfire and rushed to the hospital in Bloemfontein.”
Makhele said eventually all the vehicles were stopped and searched.
“One-hundred-and-fifty-eight passengers were found to be travelling into South Africa without proper documents allowing them to be in the country. Two firearms with a magazine loaded with rounds were found hidden inside the BMW sedan. The BMW registration number plates and licence disc were also not corresponding. All 158 passengers were arrested as illegal immigrants.”
He said the five men arrested for possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition as well as suspected stolen property would appear in the Wepener magistrate’s court on Tuesday.