top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlain Catzeflis


Updated: Aug 9, 2020

Trapped inside South Africa's cold embrace

Samuel is one of many migrant workers who leave the mountain kingdom of Lesotho to find work in South Africa and often end up in jail. Samuel holds up a glass of orange juice and saying, "You see this juice? This is Lesotho. The glass is South Africa. We are trapped inside."

Desperation drives many Basotho (as they are known) across the South African border, often illegally, in search of greener pastures. Lesotho's 25.3 percent unemployment rate, in a population of nearly 1,9 million leave many in a similar position.

The life expectancy of males in Lesotho is 39, with this tiny landlocked country with the second highest HIV prevalence in the world. That means 310,000 people were living with HIV in 2015, according to UNAIDS.Male life expectancy is 39. It has the 2nd highest prevalence of HIV/Aids in the world.

There are schools and kids everywhere. I asked Joseph our guide to the Maletsuyane Falls about his family.." There's my mother, my little brother sister and me". He gave me a long look.

It's something of a matriarchal society I guess because there aren't that many dads around. Some are migrant workers like Samuel. Many have succumbed to Aids. Undertakers are really big business.

In little towns we saw small orange plastic pop-up gazebos plastered with the logo " Make a new start" : Advice and help about HIV. They were no takers.

Unemployment is close to 30 % and that depends on what your definition of unemployment is.

Corruption has got worse according to Transparency International. In 2015 it was the same as South Africa and Italy.

But people stand tall. With the exception of kids asking for sweets I didn't see a single beggar unlike Johannesburg where they wait at traffic lights.

The towns are full of scrapyards and bulldozers on mostly government work. In Roma (first Catholic settlement) there's a carwash called the Vatican Valet and Car Wash.

When we left today we got caught up in a 4-5 hour queue at the Maseru border crossing into South Africa. Security. So we did a U-Turn by mounting a pavement and motored 40km up the road to the next one which was virtually empty.

Alain Catzeflis


January 2018

5Anita Bennett, Kate Bevan and 3 others 2 comments Like Comment Share

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page