** SECURITY WARNING** Our recent ordeal in The Berg, 15 April 2024

05 May 2024 19:51 - 05 May 2024 19:54 #79074 by ghaznavid

I have recently posted some photos of a recent NT I did and I had a lot of very "angry" comments and messages send to me via FB, threatening deportations and violence because we are illegally in Lesotho and need to start to pay compensation for being there illegally.


Interesting. When I post Drakensberg photos on my FB page, I also occasionally get comments or PMs saying "that's Lesotho, not South Africa" or something similar, even when posting something like Monks Cowl where Lesotho isn't even visible in the photo. I generally just delete the comments, and intentionally don't include a region name for many of the posts these days for that reason. Notably I've never had anything threatening or abusive, though.

It's an interesting one - for one thing, it is a trans-frontier park, so technically crossing the border isn't illegal, although one could argue that only applies around Sehlabathebe. But similarly, crossing the border between SA and Lesotho at a border post doesn't require a visa - so it's not like getting into Lesotho legally for a South African is a major issue.

On the double GT back in 2016/2017, we got stopped by Lesotho military on the ridge between Champagne Castle and Nkosasana (on the Lesotho side, incidentally) on the way north, again by different individuals at the start of the second traverse, this time on the Tugela, and then again just below Starboard - presumably by the same people as we encountered on the first traverse. The first encounter ended with us being called snakes, but being allowed to keep going after about 10 mins. The second included a long discussion on the fact that we weren't in Lesotho and him telling us that our map was wrong - but eventually he followed us to the top of MAS and even took our summit photo for us. The third happened just after sunset, and included them splitting AndrewP, Hobbit and myself off separately for questioning, and them asking why Andrew's permit was from Witsieshoek while mine and Hobbits were from Bushman's Nek - neither of which made sense for where we were. They were a bit difficult, but did let us go after 15 to 20 mins - I can only assume that they were bored. In late 2017 I encountered some Lesotho military near Namahadi who were also a bit difficult initially - and after about 5 minutes, they started asking if I had cigarettes for them and if I could find a job for them in SA. So I've had mixed interactions with Lesotho military, but nothing close to what happened here.

It's disturbing - 2024 has already included what I believe to be the first recorded robbery of a group in a cave, and now this. I don't like this trend, it's making me wonder if day hikes to the top are the best way to go till things have calmed down again.
Last edit: 05 May 2024 19:54 by ghaznavid.
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05 May 2024 21:57 - 05 May 2024 21:58 #79075 by Wandelaar
The government of Lesotho is currently considering claiming a large part of the Free-state as rightfully belonging to Lesotho. South Africa and Lesotho has always had a tricky relationship, and the people in Lesotho have at times very clearly resented the lopsided power-relationship between the two. Just think of the Katse dam incident. These kinds incidents might be the result of this underlying resentment building. I have no special insight into what's going on in Lesotho politically, but given the fact that they are debating these kinds of motions in parliament, it might signify something like a resurgent feelings of nationalism (if that term can be applied) and an accompanying resentment and frustration. There is of course also the longstanding tension between the Basothos, the Zulus and other farmers in the region.

I'm not saying that these incidents are officially sanctioned, but there is much to be said about the influence that a general "mood" can have on these kinds of interactions. Even criminals and hooligans feel that they can get away with more when they target groups that the government might be less motivated to actively protect (i.e. unpopular foreign nationals). Cheap justification is also a phycological factor to consider. When people want to cause trouble, simply steal things, or are just on a power-trip, having an easy way to justify what you already want to do, often leads people to act with less restraint.

The abovementioned is obviously not the only cause, but I wouldn't be surprised with it's a contributing factor.
Last edit: 05 May 2024 21:58 by Wandelaar.
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