07 Feb 2016 12:00pm
KATIMA MULILO, 07 FEB (NAMPA) Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu says Namibia will continue voluntarily repatriating Namibians who have lost their refugee status from Botswana, irrespective of the outcome of their case against that countrys government challenging their deportation.
The 928 Namibians, who had their refugee status revoked on 31 December 2015, took the Botswana Government to the Gaborone High Court last month to challenge the decision it took to no longer recognise them as refugees, but as illegal immigrants.
They say if they return to Namibia, they will be persecuted on treason charges linking them to the failed August 1999 attempt to secede the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) region from the rest of the country.
In an interview with Nampa on Wednesday, Sampofu said the Namibian Government will not stop the voluntary repatriation process for the Namibians living at Mauns Dukwi camp.
The Botswana Government has until 26 February to respond to the court on why it should not rule that the Namibians can continue living in the country they fled to for safety.
The High Court also ordered the Botswana Government to provide a copy of the last Tripartite Commission Report of the Go and See, Come and Tell mission to the group.
The mission, which took place between 28 June and 04 July 2015, was brought to an abrupt end as the 13 refugees who had come to Namibia to assess the situation and report back to the other refugees, allegedly started advancing ideas to secede the Zambezi Region. They were accused of campaigning for people to join the United Democratic Party, which is banned in Namibia.
Sampofu emphasised that the voluntary repatriation exercise will remain open and transparent for those who indicate that they wish to return to Namibia.
It is our governments wish to have them return to their homes. There were over 3 000 that fled the country between 1999 and 2000. Some have returned and are now productive citizens in the region, while others died before they could return, he said.
The governor said since their refugee status was revoked, the Namibians are no longer under the care of the Botswana Ministry of Defence and Justice, and now fall under the Ministry of Labour.