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Court stops Gov’t move to deport Ugandan refugees

Representing the Ugandans, Martin Dingake

The High Court this week thwarted government efforts to deport two Ugandan refugees and declare them prohibited immigrants (PI).  

The two refugees, Musa Isabirye and Timothy Yamin are currently based at Dukwi Refugee Camp placed 123 km from Francistown.

This publication has established that the duo had rubbed government the wrong way ever since they complained about filthy welfare status at the Dukwi refugee camp. They had complained that the camp posed health risks to their being.
It is understood that since then government has put them under surveillance and hatched a plan to extradite them but it failed on two occasions.

Just this week, according to a court order released on Friday and seen by Weekend Post, government was interdicted from deporting the duo pending finalization of the matter before the courts.

“The respondents or anyone acting under their authority are prohibited and/or interdicted from deporting the applicants until the application for an interim interdict is determined to its finality.”

In addition, the refugees have now been granted leeway to consult their attorney, a central right which they were denied before. It is said that government have denied them legal representation by barring them from consulting their lawyer.
“The notice prohibiting applicants’ legal representatives from consulting their clients is declared unconstitutional, irrational and unlawful. The applicants’ legal representatives are now hereby permitted to consult applicants,” Francistown High Court Judge, Lot Moroka who presided over the matter also ordered.

In a letter addressed to the Attorney General on Wednesday, the two refugees’ attorney, Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners stated that “we hold instructions to proceed to court on urgency should you fail to give the requested undertaking to interdict the Government of Botswana from deporting the clients pending the review application.”

In their intention to sue, the refugees through their renowned lawyer cited the president of Botswana Lt. Gen Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama as the 1st respondent, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi the 2nd respondent and the 3rd respondent as Commissioner of Prisons and Rehabilitation Silas Setlalekgosi while the 4th is Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi and Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme is the 5th as principal legal advisor to government.      

The Gaborone based lawyer, on behalf of refugees indicate that they want an order reviewing, correcting and/or setting aside the decision of the President of the Republic of Botswana to declare the Claimants undesirable inhabitants of, and visitors to Botswana in terms of Section 41 (1)(c ) of the Immigration Act [Cap 39;01] of the Laws of Botswana.

In addition they assert that they request for “an order reviewing, correcting and/or setting aside the decision of the Refugee Advisory Committee (“RAC”) to revoke the political refugee status of the claimants as contained in the letter of the 15th September 2015.”

According to Dingake, the court should further declare that the decision to revoke the status of the claimants is both procedurally and substantively unfair and violates the audi alteram partem and therefore invalid and of no force and force.
The Ugandan exiles were given refugee status in 2011.

Their statuses have not been received ever since until after two (2) successful court applications launched against the Attorney General of the Republic of Botswana. The Refugee Advisory Committee had sought to do so, twice (2) by inviting the Claimants to appear before the Committee without the basis thereof.

In a similar matter, former president Festus Mogae has been complaining about deportation of foreign nations by the Khama regime.

He spoke at an African leadership forum in Tanzania that: “in my country for example, we are regressing. The problem is if you criticize your successor, people think you want to rule from the grave. We were a small country that ran an open economy and open society. But our present government has expelled over 2000 foreign professionals over the last six years.”

Dingake contends that “both the President and the Committee did not consider the personal circumstances given political refugee status of the Claimants (2 refugees) and the adverse consequences their decisions will have on the best interest of their children.”

He pointed out that the previous decisions of the Committee to revoke the status of the Claimants (refugees) without done process was indicative of a party who was hell-sent on taking such a decision irrespective of what is provided for in the national law. It is not the first time government threatens to deport the duo, they did in the past but also failed.

At present government is also plagued in a matter involving Eritrean players who are seeking for political asylum in the country. While Eritrea is rife with violations of human rights, government, in particular Minister of Justice, Defense and Security has also threatened to send the players back to their home despite clear disregard of human rights there.

However, after court intervention the players are also housed at Francistown detention camp for illegal immigrants subject to valuation.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de DĂ©veloppement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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