On April 2015 the Minister of Defense Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi declared that by the 31st December 2015, the refugee status of all the Namibians staying at Dukwi refugee camp would be terminated.
This announcement followed a tripartite meeting in Francistown made up of representatives from both Namibia and Botswana governments as well as the UN High Commission for Refugees in which the decision was made.
Upon receiving the news that they should either take up voluntary repatriation before the 31st of December 2015 or risk the refugees status being revoked, the Namibians did not take the news lying down and vowed to both the officials that they would not leave their country. A representative of the Namibians, Felix Kakula read a letter in which they said they would rather leave Botswana in body bags because their safety was not guaranteed back home.
Minister Kgathi who led the Botswana delegation, indicated at the meeting that the major reason for the repatriation was that it had been established that it was safer for them to return home. The Namibian delegation also affirmed that the country was ready to receive them.
It has surfaced however that since raising their concerns to the Botswana government, the refugees were subjected to unfair treatment at the camp with the hope that they would take up voluntary repatriation.
This according to a claim made Kakula in an affidavit lodged to the Lobatse High Court in the case in which the refugees seek the intervention of the court to avert their possible deportation;
“Over the course of time and in the months that followed, Dukwi refugee camp and the Ministry of Defense Justice insisted that we all take the cessation of refugee status and we complete the designed forms. There begun subtle ways of forcing us to complete the forms against our will. Those who refused to complete the forms were denied food rations at the camp, some were promised favours in return for completion of forms. Others with further education opportunities like Nicholas Tonda, were denied permission to go for courses that go beyond December 2015 since that was the deadline repatriation,” reads the affidavit.
Kakula further reveals that, they were denied exit permits to leave the Dukwi refugee camp, and were categorically told that those who have not completed the forms for voluntary repatriation would be sent back home as their refugee status would be revoked and they would be declared illegal immigrants.
Also in the responding affidavit recently filed by Attorney Martin Dingake, Kakula claims that they were denied food rations as far back as April 2015.