Ugandan refugees secretly deported

Timothy Yamin and Musa Mohammed Isabirye. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Timothy Yamin and Musa Mohammed Isabirye. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

In a blatant disregard of Justice Lot Moroka’s order that the two Ugandan refugees should not be expelled from the country, the government nevertheless carried out deportation two days later.

A senior government attorney Morulaganyi Chamme confirmed the deportation in his affidavit filed in court on November 2, 2015.

The Attorney General filed a notice to defend Commissioners of Police and Prisons, Keabetswe Makgophe and Silas Motlalekgosi against an attempt by two Ugandan refugees to have the law enforcement bosses locked up for contempt of court.

Chamme notified attorneys for the deported refugees, Musa Isabirye and Timothy Yamin, that Makgophe and Motlalekgosi should, at the hearing of the matter, oppose the relief sought by the applicants. Last week the two Ugandan political refugees filed an application in court charging Makgophe and Motlalekgosi with contempt of court and seeking their committal in prison.

“My information is that the applicants are no longer in the custody or control of people before the court in the current proceedings, because they were deported on the 25th October 2015. I never discussed the court order of the 23rd October 2015 with the Commissioners of Police and Prisons and Rehabilitation. My concentration was on the deportation which was controlled by Department of Immigration,” wrote Chamme in his affidavit.

Chamme said he was served with Moroka’s order on October 23. “I asked Mr [Nchunga] Nchunga and Ms [Thato] Mujaji to bring the order to the attention of the Director, Immigration and Citizenship but later received information that it was proving difficult to communicate with him. I was later adviced that Ms Mujaji did manage to get hold of the Director.

“I also got hold of him and took the opportunity to discuss the order with him. I informed him of the gist of the order and clearly explained to him that the deportation had been interdicted.  I stated that we would challenge the order, the following week. Although I have misgivings about the order I was clear that it had to be obeyed until it was set aside.”

He submitted that there is no evidence that the Attorney General, Makgophe and Motlalekgosi have willfully disobeyed the court order. He said the founding affidavit clearly shows that Motlalekgosi was completely removed from the conduct complained of. He also averred that the Attorney General’s officers did all that was necessary to explain the order to the relevant officials and to promote compliance with it.

In his replying affidavit, refugees’ lawyer, Martin Dingake, said Chamme is being candid. “I note however that the deponent did not warn the Director of Immigration and Citizenship about the implications of the order and what it means or will mean should it be disobeyed. This is more so important because the deponent and in particular the office of the Attorney General is the principal legal administration of the Government of Botswana and public officers,” said Dingake.

He said the misgivings, which Chamme expressed or is reluctant to express manifest themselves in the conduct of the respondents in this matter. “It is not difficult to see why the deponent would not have been firm with the Director as regards the order.

This is mostly so because of the deponent’s attitude towards the court order, an attitude that was to play a role, one way or the other about not just refusal to allow me an opportunity to consult clients but also to have them deported in the middle of the night and under cover of darkness.

“There can be no wilful disobedience of a court order other than this, done with the condonation of the office of the Attorney General and its officers, amongst whom the deponent is a senior member of.

“The Attorney General and her officers have thus degraded our values as a constitutional democracy because of misgivings they have about a court order and about which they have done absolutely nothing or very little, if any, to challenge. Needless to say and given the callous manner with which the respondents have acted the ex parte application becomes even more justified.”

Dingake said Chamme does not say who gave him the information that the applicants are no longer in the custody or control of the people before court.

Neither does he say where the applicants are and what became of them. “It is important, if not telling, why the deponent does not seem to be troubled by this development and take the court into its confidence as to what could have become of the applicants and what efforts he has made or is making to get to the bottom of this.

“Clearly the deportation of the applicants, the circumstances of which the respondent must know and if not ought to have investigated, and in the absence of the investigations I dare say, was done with complicit involvement of the Attorney General and her officers, including but not limited to the deponent. Most surprisingly, the deponent does not explain how it could be that after an

order was obtained interdicting the government or its officials form deporting the applicants, the deportation was nevertheless carried out.”

He said the Attorney General, Makgophe and Motlalekgosi have further aided and abetted the wilful disobedience of the court order by handing over the applicants to the Department of Immigration for purposes of deportation. “Their facilitation was all the more important and at such odd hours, for without it the applicants would still be in the country.”

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