Botswana decides to repatriate Eritrean football players

15 Oct 2015

Botswana human rights lawyer, Dick Bayford confirmed that he will this afternoon launch an urgent application with the High Court in Gaborone to stop the Botswana government from repatriating 10 Eritrean football players who are seeking asylum in Botswana.

This follows an announcement by Botswana’s Minister of defence justice and security, Shaw Kgathi that government has decided to repatriate the 10 Eritrean football players

Kgathi who this morning shared a radio talk-show platform with Bayford, told Gabz FM listeners that government has taken a decision to repatriate the 10 Eritrean asylum seekers.

He argued that FIFA rules barred the Botswana government from interfering in the Eritrean case which he said was a football issue.

Bayford, who is representing the 10 Eritrean asylum seekers, however argued that minister Kgathi was confusing football issues with political issues. He said the ten Eritreans came to Botswana to play football, but were now raising political issues.

Bayford wrote to the Office of the President and the Botswana Police Service yesterday (Wednesday) giving them up to 13 00 hours today to have given him the assurance that they will not repatriate the ten footballers to Eritrea.

Bayford stated in the letter that, “if we do not receive your assurance then, we shall accordingly approach the High Court for an urgent application.”  Bayford however stayed the application yesterday pending the outcome of a marathon meeting at the government enclave where defence, justice and security officials were discussing the issue.

It was at the meeting where it was agreed that the 10 Eritrean asylum seekers be repatriated.