Namibian refugees currently housed at Dukwi Refugee Camp said they would rather be deported back to their native country rather than registering for a voluntary repatriation, The Patriot on Sunday can exclusively reveal.
At least 624 Caprivians, as the Namibian refugees are affectionately known, were early last month given up to the 11th of July this year to have vacated the only refugee camp in the country, situated some 110km northwest of Francistown.
Today (Sunday) marks exactly a month after Defense, Justice and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi issued a two-month ultimatum on the refugees. However, this publication has been reliably informed that none of the refugees has registered for voluntary repatriation a month after.
“We were told that those who are not going to register (for voluntary repatriation) will be handed to the country’s Department of Immigration as of the 11th July 2018,” Namibian refugees’ spokesperson, Felix Kakula vividly remembers the message, as Kgathi delivered it to them exactly a month ago.
Kakula added: “The minister said there is a law that governs illegal immigrants. So, anything can happen anytime. But we are ready for everything. If we get deported, the attention of the world will be attracted. And we want the world to witness, as Namibia exterminate us.”
Asked why the Caprivians can volunteer to be repatriated, the soft spoken Kakula unequivocally claimed that the safety of the refugees is not guaranteed upon setting their feet in Botswana’s western neighbor.
“We will be arrested and charged with treason once we set our feet in Caprivi. The (Namibian) will make sure that we disappear because we have the truth that Caprivi is not part and parcel of Namibia,” he said.
According to Kakula, many of the refugees at Dukwi Refugee Camp contributed immensely in the liberation struggle of the Caprivi Strip, now renamed Zambezi Region, a development that puts them on the wanted list of the Namibian government.
Kakula said the Caprivian community at Dukwi Refugee Camp is insisting on being guaranteed safety from both governments of Botswana and Namibia. He said the community is demanding that there should be peaceful talks between government and the leadership of the banned United Democratic Party (UDC).
Founded in 1985 by Mishake Muyongo, UDP is a political party in Namibia representing mainly people from eastern Caprivi and advocating for the secession of the Caprivi Strip. It was banned in September 2006 following a government directive.
“What kind of security assurance that can convince any person that it is safe to go back home?” rhetorically questioned Kakula. For his part, Kgathi maintained that circumstances that led to Caprivians fleeing into Botswana between 1998 and 1999 have since changed for the better.
In response to request by refugees for Botswana to persuade her counterpart to consider a peaceful dialogue with leadership of the banned political party, Kgathi said: “This is tantamount to meddling with Namibia’s sovereignty.”