The Pope arrives in Lesotho

Pope John Paul

Wednesday, 14 September 1988

The Pope arrives in Lesotho Pope John Paul , leader of the Catholic Church arrives in Lesotho amidst a hijacking crisis that revealed Lesotho's dependence on South Africa. A busload of pilgrims coming to see the Pope was hijacked by a group of gunmen suspected to be members of the Lesotho Liberation Army , which was once supported by the South African government to undermine the Lesotho government. The hijackers demanded to meet with the Pope, whose motorcade passed within two blocks. The hijackers claimed that their intention was to free Lesotho from a military government, which was fully backed by the South African government.

The pilgrims were freed only after direct intervention of South Africa. South Africa's direct intervention on the matter humiliated the Lesotho government before the international community. Furthermore, the government of Lesotho was disappointed by the lower turn out of people. Not more than 10 000 out of an expected crowd of one million people came to see and listen to the Pope's speech.



Malunga, M. (1988). "Smiles for the Pope . but all this trip meant for Lesotho was shame", Weekly Mail, Vol. 4, No. 36.

Last updated : 13-Sep-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011