The Caprivian refugees are once again left to fight the government of Botswana in what they called forced repatriation.
The Caprivian refugees, officially referred to as the Namibian refugees are accusing the government of giving them an ultimatum to register for repatriation.
The action for repatriation was carried out on Wednesday for those who volunteered to return while a total of 709 refugees approached court on urgency.
The refugees, represented by attorney Martin Dingake will know their fate once the court decides on the matter.
As for now, both the State and the refugees’ attorney have agreed that those that did not apply for voluntary repatriation will not be forced out and this was confirmed by the High Court Judge, Godfrey Nthomiwa on Wednesday through an interim interdict.
Dingake had earlier wanted the interdict to also cover those who volunteered for repatriation on reasons that they did so under duress.
He argued that conditions had worsened at the camp and most were left with no choice but to make a decision to leave.
But the government argued that they would not hold those who volunteered to go hostage.
Now, on the reasons to approach court the refugees are accusing the government of resurfacing the decision to repatriate them not taking into account the security issues.
The refugees are arguing government took the decision to repatriate them without addressing the security questions and without complying with the Tripartite Agreement, Refugees Act and International Law.
“Rather on May 9, 2018 the government through the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security made it specific that the refugees were given two months to register for repatriation with July 11, 2018 being last day, failing which all of them would face forced repatriation,” read the papers.
According to Tyson Mujela’s founding affidavit following the communication by the minister, the Caprivian elders made an effort to dialogue with Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other stakeholders but they never got any response.
Taking the decision upon themselves to convene at the SADC offices on June 18, 2018 did not bear any fruit as they were arrested and are still detained at the Department of Immigrants under instruction of Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs.
The refugees are now seeking the court’s intervention on account that the scheduled repatriation was arbitrary,
“There is no disclosure of reasons that informs the decision to all of a sudden commence the repatriation process and even in so doing, to conduct it in such a violent manner,” read the affidavit.
Mujela submitted that the government failed to produce its own report following the abrupt termination of 2014 Go See, Come Tell mission and that there are no reasons proffered by the Minister as to why the said persons are not wanted in Namibia.
“The refugees says they cannot go back to Namibia when there was clear indication that the reasons for fleeing still exist and our political party is still banned in Namibia.
“Several members of our party who were repatriated upon arrival were arrested and are now serving sentences for treason and that is the reason why we seek asylum in Botswana,” said Mujela.
More over, the refugees said it was inconceivable what the forced repatriation would do as most of the un-cleared refugees have children and families who depend solely and highly on them.
The refugees argue that they do have a case and that they delayed prosecuting this matter as they thought the government would be willing to listen to them and have a positive dialogue over the matter.
Mujela, further in his affidavit, states that there was absolute no prejudice to the State should the repatriation be stayed and negotiations started afresh while on their side no alternative remedy exists for them once deported and or repatriated.
“The court would have no jurisdiction over us and consequently cannot grant orders for our return to Botswana. Our deportation will mean that whatever remedies we now have in law, will cease to exist. We shall have no right of recourse against the government before courts,” said Mujela.
Lastly, the refugees request that the court grant them final interdict, as they do have a case and that they will suffer irreparable harm if the reliefs sought are not granted.