Lesotho is entirely encompassed by South Africa, meaning the mountain kingdom has been sealed off from the outside world.Widespread testing has not been possible inside the country but they did institute a lockdown which remains in effect.
Lesotho citizens working in South Africa have been left stranded in the country, but the opening of the interprovincial blockade saw a rush of border jumpers attempting dangerous border jump to return to their homes and families.
Many of the border jumpers reportedly made their way to the Eastern Cape from the winelands and crossed into Lesotho by ferrying over the Tele River into Lesotho border town Quthing.
Still, others are entering through the Free State town of Wepener, where the border is not reinforced by significant natural barriers.
Last week South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi announced a mass repatriation of citizens of Lesotho, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring states. Some of that large group were in South Africa illegally and were being held at the Lindela Repatriation Centre near Krugersdorp.
There were 95 Lesotho citizens in the group of more than 700 repatriated from Lindela with the majority headed to Zimbabwe.
The Lesotho border jumpers say they are desperate to return home as they can no longer support themselves in South Africa.
Residents of Lesotho who are in South Africa legally, may remain in South Africa without applying for additional paperwork until at least 15 June 2020 according to a Home Affairs announcement made in April.
The department of home affairs notified in April “During the lockdown, except for cases relating to expatriation initiated by another state, all foreign nationals who are currently in South Africa may not depart”.
The department of home affairs have barred foreign nationals who are in South Africa from leaving the country outside of official repatriation and deportation efforts.
After receiving 95 citizens repatriated from South Africa this week, it is unclear if the government of Lesotho has any intention of engaging in further efforts to bring any of its people in South Africa and neighbouring states back to their home.