Albertina Nakale and Maria Amakali WINDHOEK - The remaining 709 Dukwe refugees have approached the High Court of Botswana in Lobatse seeking a court order to declare that the recent enforced cessation clause by that country is ‘unfair and unlawful’. The refugees were last week given an interim court interdict preventing the Botswana government for deporting them back to Namibia after the July 11 deadline lapsed. These refugees were given a deadline to register in person for voluntary repatriation to Namibia from May 11 to July 11, 2018 or risk facing deportation as they are regarded as illegal immigrants. The Botswana government took a decision to finally enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living at Dukwe, which was invoked in 2015. According to court documents seen by New Era filed in the High Court on July 10-a day before the set deadline- refugees are demanding that they should not be deported back to Namibia until the court decides otherwise. They also demand the repatriation should cease until their reasons for them fleeing Namibia no longer exist. The refugees are arguing that should they be deported, they are likely to suffer irreparable damages. In 1999, thousands of residents of Zambezi Region fled the country into Botswana and other parts of the world after a failed attempt to militarily secede the region, then known as Caprivi, from Namibia. New Era has learned that their leader Felix Kakula and others who were arrested and detained at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants have since been released and send back to Dukwe Refugee Camp. The group vowed they will only return back home if the Namibian government accepts them as members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) along with their Denmark-based leader Mishake Muyongo and former chief Boniface Mamili. In their affidavit, the refugees maintain that they will be arrested if they return to Namibia, alleging that several of their members who have since retuned back home have been arrested upon arrival and are now serving sentences for treason. “We cannot therefore go back to Namibia when there is clear indication that the reasons for our fleeing still exist. Our political party is still banned in Namibia despite it being trite that everyone being entitled to a fundamental right and freedom without distinction of any kind – be it political or otherwise,” reads the affidavit. The refugees claim according to Namibia’s Human Rights Activist Phil Ya Nangolo’s confirmatory affidavit, the situation in Namibia is as they left it when they fled. In an interview with New Era on the current situation, Namibia’s Commissioner for Refugees Likius Valombola said they received 41 refugees on Thursday (July 12) who have thus been reunited with their families and issued with voluntary repatriation packages. Valombola said they expect about 30 more refugees to arrive this Friday. Since the announcement of the deadline by the government of Botswana, 74 former refugees have been received in dignity and safety, he said. The case is still being argued in the Botswana High Court.
2018-07-19 09:30:58 2 months ago