I bought The so-called Conquered Territory: disputed border area between the Orange Free State (Republic of South Africa) and Lesotho (Basutoland) by C. C. Eloff when I was in Cape Town in 2017. It was a tract of 47 pages, published in 1979, pitting Lesotho against South Africa over some borderlands in the former Orange Free State (OFS). The focus of which nation has rightful sovereignty over the disputed lands is revealed by the blurb on the back cover:
“Lesotho, who has incessantly laid claim to parts of the eastern Orange Free State, the so-called Conquered Territory, is disputing the legality of the boundary between Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa. This dispute has been the source of trouble for many decades. Three frontier wars, the disappearance of the Orange Free State as a republic, the independence of Lesotho and South Africa, have not removed the irritation. The problem is best understood when the ignorance about this disputed boundary and the so-called Conquered Territory which it encircles becomes clear. Even people reputedly well informed show a surprising lack of comprehension about this.”
Eloff wrote a history of the area from the time preceding the arrival of Europeans, and of the wars that were fought over this disputed territory. The Basotho took advantage of the inaction on the part of the OFS to develop or enforce the area. With no border control the Basotho settled in the territory, believing the land was theirs anyway. A string of wars led to the OFS, and later the Union of South Africa, to effectively reconquer the territory.
The author’s reference to “people reputedly well informed” refers to the most senior Lesotho officials themselves, who after gaining independence in 1966 are accused of using the platform of the United Nations to drum up sympathy for its baseless claims. No one on the world stage listened to Lesotho’s protests for good reason. This little book was illustrated with detailed maps, documents and old photos. It provided information on a border situation I had not been aware of before I found the book.