More than 800 refugees and children who have never lived in Namibia have been given 28 days from today to have registered for voluntary repatriation back to their indigenous country, failure in which the government of Botswana will forcibly repatriate them.
The idea to repatriate the Namibians comes after their refugee status lapsed when the cessation clause was invoked in 2015. The refugees were given up to the 11th of July last year to have registered for repatriation to their country of origin which they refused. Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi told them then that failure to comply will result in them being declared illegal immigrants. “You are not refugees, nor are you guests of the government of Botswana,” he said.
The Namibians then through the courts of law interdicted their repatriation. They contended that the repatriation process lacked the assurances and the reasons for which they fled their country in the late 90s. According to Kgathi, the environment is now conducive for them to return home to participate in the socio-economic, cultural and political arena of their home country.
Last week however the government won an appeal in which they wanted the Namibians to go back home. Already the government has issued a Caprivians with correspondence that they will have to register for voluntary repatriation before end of this month. “The minister is expected to meet them at the end of this month. But for now the decision has been taken that they register for the voluntary repatriation. The plan is, by beginning of September the process of ferrying them back to Namibia should start.
Failure to register for the repatriation will see them now being forced back to Namibia through the immigration law, because they will no longer be refugees but rather immigration laws will preside by being detained at the center of illegal immigrants before being deported back,” a source from government enclave told this publication. Unlike last year, this time the refugees will only be provided with transport and foot in transit and will not be given any incentives.
“UNHCR will not avail any of those incentives offered in the past because they did that in goodwill not like they are entitled to those. Last year they could have got $300, basic building materials and food rations for the time being as they settle but this time around there will not be any of those,” added the informant on Thursday morning. Efforts to contact UNHCR head of mission in Botswana Arvind Gupta were futile as he is said to be abroad.
NAMIBIANS VOW TO FIGHT GOV’T
Meanwhile the Caprivi community spokesperson, Felix Kakula has maintained that they are not going anywhere. “People have accepted the judgement as the wish of government, weak as we are, we have nothing to do, but we are not going to surrender to the Namibian government by voluntary repatriation. We are very disappointed with Botswana democracy at this point” he told WeekendPost.
Kakula has emphasized that they do not need anyone to tell them about the safety of Namibia adding that whoever does that should update them about the stand of Namibian government regarding the United Democratic Party (UDP). “The administration of President Geingob must tell us if we are welcome as UDP members back home then we will be more than happy to register and go just one day all of us. So that when we get there will be questions about the Caprivi Strip without fear,” he said.
He continued; “If Botswana send us by force without us registering then Namibia should open their prisons because immediately we arrive we will ask many questions regarding Caprivi Strip. So we have declared ourselves dead on this matter, either dying on the hands of Botswana if they so wish or die in the hands of oppressor who have killed many in cold blood and able to convince the world in the name of wisdom and politics.”
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.