Citation(s) from the literature library

Pefole, Katleho. 2004 ‘Illegal Arms.’ Hide and Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa, p. 56. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies. 1 October

Relevant contents

Armed conflict and liberation struggles in Southern African countries have left a legacy of illegal arms in the region. Despite this Lesotho has arguably one of the lowest numbers of illegal arms in the region, mainly because there was not the same degree of external support for armed opposition forces(21) as experienced in, for example, Mozambique and Angola.

The widespread cultivation of dagga (cannabis) and the growth in illegal diamond mining are both factors that could fuel the proliferation of small arms in Lesotho. Research in other countries has shown a clear link between drug and precious minerals trafficking and small arms.(22)

The illicit trade in both diamonds and cannabis occurs mostly between Lesotho citizens and South Africans, as does the trade in stolen livestock and hijacked vehicles. Firearms are a strong feature of all the above activities and in all of them there are ties to syndicates in other countries of the region.(23)

Firearms are also allegedly brought into Lesotho by Basotho mineworkers returning from South Africa.(24)

Both civilian and security personnel interviewed alleged that officers of the Lesotho and South African police services are involved in the proliferation of small arms in Lesotho and participate in criminal syndicates.(25)

Groups connected to some form of underworld trade seem to have the easiest access to illegal firearms.(26) It is believed that these groups have connections to corrupt police officers, both in Lesotho and in South Africa.(27) Connection to these groups can also mean easy access to illegal firearms.(28)

Respondents indicated that corrupt police officers do not necessarily use their government issued firearms in their work with syndicates, but may use personal firearms or illegal firearms from South Africa.(29)


21) Gill 1993, p157. Gill says that the BCP's military Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) was assisted by Libya and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) from South Africa and ironically, the South Africa Apartheid State.

22) Honwana, J and Lamb, G. "Small Arms Proliferation and Drug Trafficking in Southern Africa: A Conceptual Paper", Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town. http://ccrweb.ccr.uct/ac/za/staff_papers/guy_small_arms_drugs.

23) A report by the Lesotho Police Services indicates that a joint operation targeted at theft and hijacking of motor vehicles, illicit drug trafficking, illicit firearms trafficking and stock theft carried out between Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique resulted in the recovery 110 vehicles, 7 firearms and 81 bags of dagga. "Country Report by the Commissioner of Police Lesotho", SARPCCO 8th Annual General Meeting, 1-5th September 2003, Maputo, Mozambique, p.9.

24) This was raised by a number of the interviewees who said they knew that their mineworker neighbours held illegal firearms. It was also mentioned in an interview with Senior Superintendent Monyane Thibeli & Senior Inspector Ts'eliso Makote of the Stocktheft Unit at Police headquarters Maseru on the 12th November 2003. It has been suggested that this is because mineworkers tend to show off their guns more than any other group that owns guns.

25) Interview with Senior Superintendent Monyane Thibeli & Senior Inspector Ts'eliso Makote, Stocktheft Unit, Police Headquarters, Maseru, 12th November 2003.

26) An incident was reported over Moafrika Radio in Maseru, Lesotho, where on Wednesday, 19 November 2003, a cash-in- transit vehicle was attacked and robbed during the day by a group of armed people.

27) A total of 35 respondents said they believed the police were a source for illegal firearms.

28) This was mentioned during meeting between Sergeant Litabe, of the Firearms Unit and the board of the Association of Private Security Companies, held on 26th November 2003, which the writer attended.

29) An interview with a village headman in Berea, Pulane suggested the contrary. The headman spoke of an incident where a police officer was expelled from the police service because stock thieves had used his police issued arm, without the firearm being reported lost or stolen.

ID: Q8807

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