Batshu defends deportation of nonagenarian

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Inspite of the obstinate stance of the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs in Parliament yesterday, Mmegi can disclose that 96-year old Alfred Khumalo - who was dislodged from a hospital bed in Selebi-Phikwe and deported to Zimbabwe on Monday - is in the hands of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) at Plumtree and could soon be headed back to Botswana.

A spokesperson of the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Flora Kedibonye, has confirmed to Mmegi that Botswana's Chief Immigration Officer, Mabuse Pule, was also in Plumtree to help facilitate Khumalo's repatriation to Botswana.
An ambulance was dispatched with a nurse to fetch the nonagenarian who had suffered a stroke before his controversial deportation. According to the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, which is better known as Ditshwanelo, only fulfilment of a formal protocol by the Government of Botswana stands between Khumalo and his repatriation to Botswana.But in Parliament yesterday, Minister Edwin Batshu defended the deportation of Khumalo to the hilt, saying the nonagenarian had "indicated his wish to be returned to his country of origin"when interviewed by immigration officials. In response to a question, Batshu said the government did not have "any record of Khumalo's alleged 70 years' stay in Botswana". Opposition MPs have criticised the deportation and the way it was carried out.

In follow-up questions, the MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi, had asked the minister if government had investigated rumours that Khumalo had once lived in Sebina. "Even if he stayed in Sebina or anywhere else in the country, that is really none of our business," Batshu said. He then confirmed the deportation of Khumalo that was effected on August 12 by handing him over to Zimbabwean immigration authorities at Plumtree on August 12, 2013 "to facilitate his travel to his home village".
According to the minister, some Batswana identified by Khumalo as his relatives in Selebi-Phikwe had turned out to be mere acquaintances. Khumalo was allegedly taken from his sick bed at Selebi-Phikwe Government Hospital where he had been admitted after suffering a stroke and then bundled and thrown into the back of the vehicle by immigration officials.  Asked why Khumalo was not treated with more compassion, Minister Batshu said the immigration officials were simply implementing the law. Pressed further on why an ambulance was not used, he said illegal immigrants were treated the same way.

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