Banners
Banners

Latest News

Local female rapper Sasa Klaas (Sarona Motlhagodi) of Mmamongwato fame...
Former African champion, Isaac Makwala has approached the Botswana Ath...
The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) has suspended Botswana A...
FRANCISTOWN: The country’s history is littered with tales of pla...
Banners
Banners

How the Namibian refugees came to be in Botswana

MBONGENI MGUNI
Scene this past week when Namibian refugees were rounded up at Dukwi
Barring the unforeseen, government expects to have sent back the 1,000-plus Namibian refugees from Dukwi by the end of next week. Their return marks the end of a 20-year-old sojourn and the beginning of an uncertain future. Staff Writer MBONGENI MGUNI* writes

Tensions had long been rising. The inhabitants of a 20-kilometre wide and 400 kilometre-long piece of paradise nestled amongst the Zambezi, Chobe, Linyanti and Okavango rivers said they were being brutally oppressed.

The Caprivi Strip wanted to be free of Namibia and residents were willing to use force to extricate themselves from “Big Brother’s” grip. The popular secessionist party in the region, the United Democratic Party (UDP) had formed a militant wing, the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA).

Something was going to happen and something did. Between the October 1998 discovery of a CLA training camp by the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) and the August/September 1999 attacks by the Caprivians on government installations, matters moved quickly.

Then president, Sam Nujoma, declared a state of emergency and the NDF moved in, crushing the rebellion amidst reports of random beatings, torture and murders. Even today, rumours persist of mass graves, although humanitarian agencies have yet to verify these.

An estimated 3,000 Caprivians, including military and political leaders of the rebels, supporters, sympathisers and ordinary villagers, found themselves trapped, hunted and in danger.

The only place to run to was east to Botswana, but the perils were high.

“It was a very tough journey,” explains Bothman Ntesa, a Caprivian who for the past 17 years has lived at the Dukwi Refugee Camp.

“We had to cross the river (Chobe River) with all the animals in there. Some took four to five days in the bush before they could cross.

“There was no opportunity to say ‘let me take a chance, maybe there are no crocodiles there.’

“The security forces were at the border making sure people don’t cross into Botswana.”

Ntesa’s compatriot and fellow Dukwi resident, Felix Kakula takes up the tale.

“People were risking crossing at night when the security forces were asleep,” he says.

“Others were shot at, with the bullets going through their bags. Others were caught and taken back to Caprivi.

“It was not an easy thing. Those who managed to cross the river, also had to face the lions.

“We praise God because no one lost their lives running to Botswana.”

Ntesa and Kakula, together with Tyson Mujela and Mushe Limbo are amongst veterans of the Caprivi conflict. Threats of violence, persecution and even worse, still prevail in Namibia, the refugees argue.

While Windhoek has emphatically said there are no threats for returnees, the fact that the

Banners
refugees are still pushing for secession under the now banned UDP, mean such promises may be untenable.

Further complicating matters is that some of the plus-900 Namibian refugees at Dukwi are former armed combatants in the 1999 conflict and continue to demand separation from Namibia.

The four men recall that the first group to cross into Botswana consisted of 92 people who were CLA fighters, still armed with their weapons. Another 102 followed, who consisted of the political leaders, including Caprivi independence leader and UDP founder, Mishake Muyongo.

“The first group that crossed handed over their arms to Botswana soldiers at the borders, before being transported to Linyanti. From there, they went to Mahalapye and then the Kagisong Centre in Gaborone,” says Ntesa.

According to Kakula, Botswana as a destination was an instinctively natural choice for the fleeing Caprivians.

“Namibia and Botswana are neighbours and we knew that Botswana was aware of what was happening in the Caprivi Strip. When they saw us come running, they knew there was a problem,” he says.

The 3,000 or so Caprivians settled in Dukwi and over the years, more than 2,000 returned to their motherland. Today, the four men estimate more than 1,000 Caprivians are still in Dukwi, who include young children born in the camp.

The refugees have built their own community within the camp, an extension of the Caprivi Strip and a kind of state within a state.

For 16 years, through their generations, the Caprivians at Dukwi could only dream of their heartland and then in 2015, five of them took part in a historic mission back to Caprivi Strip to assess conditions for the purposes of repatriation.

The refugees had long resisted participating in previous proposals for such missions, citing fear for their security, but last year, with the nudging of government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, they finally gave in.

The mission, however, was a disaster with the refugees sent back abruptly reportedly under armed escort for “politicising the assessment”. A Namibian minister later singled out and blasted Kakula in the Namibian Parliament.

The first visit back since the treacherous crossing 16 years before, had ended in more terror for the refugees.

*Mmegi first published this article in July 2016. It is here reproduced in order to provide context for the latest developments in the matter



Features

Banners
Banners ?>

Selefu

Mr. Kennafela. What prompted you to be a politician?

Latest Frontpages

Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper
Banners
Adana Escort
Adıyaman Escort
Afyon Escort
Ağrı Escort
Aksaray Escort
Amasya Escort
Ankara Escort
Antalya Escort
Antep Escort
Ardahan Escort
Artvin Escort
Aydın Escort
Balıkesir Escort
Bartın Escort
Batman Escort
Bayburt Escort
Bilecik Escort
Bingöl Escort
Bitlis Escort
Bolu Escort
Burdur Escort
Bursa Escort
Çanakkale Escort
Çankırı Escort
Çorum Escort
Denizli Escort
Diyarbakır Escort
Düzce Escort
Edirne Escort
Erzincan Escort
Elazığ Escort
Erzurum Escort
Eskişehir Escort
Giresun Escort
Gümüşhane Escort
Hakkari Escort
Hatay Escort
Iğdır Escort
Isparta Escort
İskenderun Escort
İstanbul Escort
İzmir Escort
İzmit Escort
Karabük Escort
Karaman Escort
Kars Escort
Kastamonu Escort
Kayseri Escort
Kıbrıs Escort
Kırıkkale Escort
Kırklareli Escort
Kırşehir Escort
Kilis Escort
Kocaeli Escort
Konya Escort
Kütahya Escort
Malatya Escort
Manisa Escort
Maraş Escort
Mardin Escort
Mersin Escort
Muğla Escort
Muş Escort
Nevşehir Escort
Niğde Escort
Ordu Escort
Osmaniye Escort
Rize Escort
Sakarya Escort
Samsun Escort
Siirt Escort
Sinop Escort
Sivas Escort
Şırnak Escort
Tekirdağ Escort
Tokat Escort
Trabzon Escort
Tunceli Escort
Urfa Escort
Uşak Escort
Van Escort
Yalova Escort
Yozgat Escort
Zonguldak Escort
Alaçatı Escort
Aliağa Escort
Alsancak Escort
Bornova Escort
Buca Escort
Çeşme Escort
Çiğli Escort
Gaziemir Escort
Karşıyaka Escort
fethiye escort
iskenderun escort
iskenderun escort
iskenderun escort
iskenderun escort
iskenderun escort karataş escort ceyhan escort ankara escort etimesgut escort çankaya escort altındağ escort mamak escort keçiören escort