Lesotho has a high crime rate, and foreigners must remain vigilant at all times. Foreigners are frequently targeted and robbed, and have occasionally been car-jacked and killed. A number of U.S. citizens have reported incidents – including sexual assault, armed and unarmed confrontation, and home invasion – occurring in broad daylight. There are no indications that U.S. citizens are targeted due to their nationality.
Crime can occur anywhere in Lesotho, but is most prevalent in urban areas. Crime scenes have included popular restaurants, poorly lit or unlit roads, and locations foreigners are known to frequent. Victims have included tourists, volunteer workers, and employees of non-governmental organizations.
U.S. citizens are advised to avoid walking or driving at night. Extra caution should be exercised while walking through downtown Maseru, even in daylight hours, as there have been numerous recent incidents in the middle of the day. Residences with 24-hour guards are generally less likely to be targeted. Traveling alone or at night is particularly dangerous, due to limited street lighting and undeveloped road conditions. The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is responsible for policing duties, but due to limited resources, LMPS response times can vary widely. U.S. citizens should report crime to the police and to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy.
There is a serious problem with theft from baggage at O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), a required transit point for air travel to Lesotho. Travelers are encouraged to secure their luggage with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, use an airport plastic wrapping service and avoid placing any items of value in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur. The claims processing procedure can be time-consuming.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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