KATIMA MULILO – Governor of Zambezi Region Lawrence Sampofu has called on Dukwi refugees who were successfully repatriated to Namibia on Friday, to refrain from secessionism ideas, and rather concentrate on integrating themselves in the community and help build the nation. “That chapter is closed, that is why we are saying let all Namibians come back home. We don’t want when you are here to hear again that you are involved in this seccesionism ideas. You are Namibians please stay free of secessionism, this is our appeal to you. We don’t want what happened in 1998 to 2002 – we want peace and stability,” said Sampofu, when he received 20 Namibian refugees from Dukwi.
Sampofu further stated that those who have been repatriated will be provided with corrugated iron sheets and poles, to construct shelters for themselves. “If you don’t have land, go to the area indunas (chiefs) or ask your parents to give you land, don’t waste time, just integrate yourself in the society,” he said.
One of the returnees Aldrin Sinombo, who was presented with his ID on Friday, could not hold his excitement of finally returning home after being away for 20 years. “I would like to thank the government of Namibia for presenting me with an ID on my arrival, now I am no longer a refugee, I am a Namibian citizen. I wish to encourage those who are still in Botswana to return home – home is sweet,” he said.
Of the 20 who were repatriated on Friday, 13 are children who were born in Botswana when their parents fled Namibia between 1998 and 2002. The youngest is two-years-old while the oldest is 20 years old. The group of repatriates was initially set to comprise of 22 people, but two people changed their mind about returning to Namibia at the eleventh hour.
Botswana has taken a decision to finally enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living at Dukwe, which was invoked in 2015. This directive by the Botswana’s Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security came after that country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, visited Windhoek in April and said Namibian refugees at Dukwe, Botswana were no longer regarded as refugees by his government but as illegal immigrants. Some of the group members have vowed that they will only return back home if the Namibian government accepts them as members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) along with their Denmark-based leader Mishake Muyongo and former Mafwe Chief Boniface Mamili.