Botswana government has been dragged before the High Court in Lobatse this week through an urgent application to withhold them against unlawful repatriation of Namibian refugees. According to court papers seen by Weekend Post, the refugees have requested for intervention before court to order government not to release the refugees from Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants and transport them back to Dukwi refugee camp.
They want the court to interdict government from deporting the refugees to Namibia/Caprivi Strip pending determination of the application. They also want an order declaration cessation of the 709 applicants’ refugee status as substantively unfair to the extent that same is unlawful. The refugees also request court to: “an order interdicting or restraining the government or anyone acting on their behalf from continuing with the repatriation of the refugees up until the reasons for their fleeing have no longer exist.”
Court papers indicate that the repatriation was scheduled on or before 11 July 2018 and now the fate of the refugees remains in the hands of High Court matter which is presided over by Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa. The case involves the government through the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security; Chairperson of the Refugees Advisory Committee; Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, and Officer in charge at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants as well as Dukwi Refugee Camp Settlement Commandant Fortunate Majingo.
In his founding affidavit, Tyson Mujela, a Namibian refugee who doubles as 709 refugees’ spokesperson stated that the Botswana government is not cooperating with them at all despite the obligation. “It is clear that the government of Botswana does not want to play ball by responding to our attorney’s correspondences and by further proceeding with preparations for the repatriations which are constituted by such actions as releasing our children from schools and further deploying Special Forces to control patrols at the settlement camp,” the refugee pointed out in court papers.
He also raised the red flag that their movement is also heavily restricted movement both in and outside the camp. “Seeing that the government of Botswana intends to further its objective which is to repatriate Namibian refugees without having satisfied itself that the fear of persecution detailed above no longer exist and failing attempts to conduct a dialogue either in person and also by correspondence when the deadline, 11 July 2018, is fast approaching we had no other option but to take legal route.”
The refugees’ spokesperson highlighted that they have always been desirous to amicably solve the bottleneck between them and government of Botswana and that is why they had thought it necessary that they dialogue around the issue before they could take the legal route which was the last option. However Mujela pointed out that government failed to prepare a report in order to advice the minister of the reason why they should or should not be repatriated to Namibia.
He explained: “as the matter stands we are still recognized as refugees under the Act and therefore worthy of protection by law until proven otherwise.” As far as we are aware, the Namibian refugee said the reason for their fleeing to Botswana in the first place still exists and that the responsible minister have not said or done anything to gainsay this assertion.
The refugee also added that for Botswana government there is absolutely no prejudice to be suffered by them if a deportation or repatriation is stayed and the process is ordered to start afresh in an open transparent way. “In any event, we aver that having stayed in the country since 1998 there is nothing material urgent to warrant our deportation or repatriation,” he said.
Meanwhile it is understood that the government of Botswana continues with preparations for repatriations including discontinuing the refugees’ children from schooling at Nata Senior Secondary School. “There is high likelihood that the repatriations will take place on or before the 11th of July 2018 as scheduled. The government of Botswana has not made attempts to address our cries as the refugees,” the Namibian refugee said in the court papers.
Meanwhile, the 1951 Refugee Convention which was ratified by 145 State parties, defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom and this is now considered a rule of customary international law.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with the organ in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected. In the marathon case that may continue to put Botswana on the spotlight in how he relates to her refugees Dimpho Ramarumo and Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners represents the refugees while the government is represented by the Attorney General.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.