The government of Botswana through Minister of Defense, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi has taken a hardline and uncompromising stance to chase at least 100 Caprivi refugee students from schools few days before they could sit for National Examinations.
Furthermore this publication has it in good authority that all the Caprivians who have been receiving the antiretroviral (ARV) treatment through the US government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), will be deported without any medical records to continue with the therapy once they touch down in Namibia. Since 2004 up to date, PEPFAR has invested $954,838,751 (about P10.3 billion), with a total sum of $70,239,250 (about P746 million) budgeted for last year alone.
For students, WeekendPost can safely reveal that 11 students who were to sit for their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), have been kicked out of various primary schools they were enrolled at and will not sit for the examinations. This has caused stir and rage within the Refugee camp located 10 kilometers away from Dukwi village.
“I nearly cried when I saw these Caprivian kids from Nata Senior hitchhiking with big trucks to Dukwi. Some without transport money they were made to drop out of school, some who are supposed to write their examinations will miss this chance,” a very gloomy Caprivi refugee parent who preferred anonymity told this publication on Wednesday.
Not only are there PSLE students, but there are also 10 students who were to sit for their Junior Certificate Examinations (JCE). For Botswana General Certificate Secondary Examinations (BGCSE), nine students have been kicked out of Nata Senior where they were about to sit for the examination next month. These, according to reports from the refugee camp are not the only ones as there are others in lower grades who have been removed from schools.
However what is concerning the refugees and human rights activists is the fact that these students will go to Namibia without their academic reports and transfers. “Initially when we offered them a voluntary repatriation there were plans not to endanger their lives. There are issues of health, education and housing which are very essential in repatriation. We compiled their academic records last year so that there will be smooth coordination when they get there. But this time there won’t be such a thing as they are no longer refugees but rather illegal immigrants,” a source dealing with the Caprivians at Dukwi refugee camp shared.
A source with the right knowledge continued to add; “Others are in medication and we were supposed to give our Namibians counterparts statistics as to how many need Anti-retroviral Therapy or any other medical assistance so that we do not deny anyone the basic rights, but just like with education there will not be any of those because they are now illegal immigrants.”
“These children have to be withdrawn from school to join their parents who are scheduled to leave Botswana on deportation. There has not been any forceful removal of former Namibian refugee students from school by any member of Special Support Group (SSG),” a statement from Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of defence Pearl Ramokoka said.
For their part United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Head of Mission Arvin Gupta, said they are no longer part of the process. “There is no repatriation. It is now deportation because those Caprivians have been declared illegal immigrants,” he highlighted. “We are now not involved because when we initially offered voluntary repatriation they refused and now it is the government’s immigration laws,” he added.
This now means the Caprivians who were to get repatriation packages will go home empty handed. “As is they are not eligible for the repatriation packages which included basic building materials and food rations and P3000 among others,” an informant in Dukwi. Fresh information however say there is a team of delegation from Namibia to Botswana, on a mission to persuade Caprivians in Botswana (center of illegal immigrants), to go back to Namibia. “The delegation includes family members of those in the camp or center and former Dukwi refugees who were repatriated in previous years,” another refugee with relevant information revealed.
More than 800 refugees and children who have never lived in Namibia, have been given up to next week to be deported back to their indigenous country. The refugees are currently crying for assistance from local and international Human rights organizations to assist them. The Namibians fled here in October 1998 with 100 being the armed Caprivi Liberation Army and 2500 civilians. Their leadership of Mishake Muyongo and Chief Boniface Mamili was long resettled to Denmark in the early 2000s.
DITSHWANELO ALSO SUPPORTS CAPRIVIANS
The center of human rights stands in solidarity with the Namibians from the Caprivi Strip and wishes to express its concern about how the government of Botswana is dealing with Caprivians, including their children. The organization says it has written letters on issues of concern which included children’s rights and their education and the use of excessive force in moving the Caprivians from the camp. Ditshwanelo says is also aware that the method of removal of students from Nata Senior reflect a disturbing violation of the access to education of students who risk being denied sitting for their end of year examination.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.