Botswana returnees in limbo over IDs

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By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

WINDHOEK- Namibian returnees from Botswana who were in 1993 resettled in Eiseb Block and Gam in Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions have found themselves in serious dilemma because they do not have identity documents.

Speaking to New Era on Monday, residents said they have been denied employment, university admission and they cannot even open bank accounts due to the mere fact that they do not have IDs to prove their legal status in the country.

Rijandjee Kandjou, 21, said he came to Namibia in 1994 with his parents but up to now he does not have an ID and this has prevented him from being employed or even being admitted at university.

“The way it is now I am an illegal immigrant in this country because I don’t have any documents to prove that I am Namibian and this has denied me my constitutional rights to education, among other opportunities,” he said.

He said every time he goes to the Ministry of Home Affairs, he has always been turned away. He alleges that some officials have told him to “go back to Botswana where he comes from”.

He said he does not have any memories of Botswana after arriving in the country aged three months.
“All a wish now is to get and ID so that I can carry on with my life,” he said.

Raandekua Njuva, 25, said he has tried to get an ID for the past four years but has not received one to date. He was aged three when he arrived in the country in the 1990s.

“Just imagine that at age 25 I do not have a life, I don’t have money and this is because I don’t have an ID,” he said, adding that he wants to open a bank account once he is issued with an ID.

Most of the young returnees with IDs have been making ends meet by working on nearby farms. It is estimated that there are about 3000 returnees without Namibian national documents.

Deputy Minister of Work and Transport Kilus Nguvauva, who is also the chief of Ovambanderu, said every time he visited the affected areas he got bombarded with complaints from residents, prompting him to bring the issue to the attention of government through regional councils.

“As we speak now the issue is with the regional council and a task team was appointed to visit the area to understand the issue first hand,” he said.

The traditional leader expressed hope that the issue will be resolved in the best interest of affected community members.
“It is not fair that these people came into this country through an agreement by both governments but twenty years on they still do not have any identification documents,” he said.

Ministry of Home Affairs’ permanent secretary, Ambassador Patrick Nandago, said he was aware of the problem faced by the Gam and Eiseb residents.

“This issue is not the only one, there are others and as with any other institutions there are rules and regulation to be followed,” he said.
He said anyone without identification document should go to the ministry’s nearest office to register their names.

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