The Government has embarked on a nationwide crackdown on Chinese nationals recently exposed by authorities for trading without licenses.
The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, has decided to kick these Chinese nationals out of Botswana.
Siele has so far cancelled residence permits for about 30 Chinese nationals accused of violating the country’s trade laws.
This comes in the wake of a joint operation by immigration, Trade and Industry, Botswana Police, Customs and Excise as well as Botswana Bureau of Standards launched last month targeting Chinese business operations to assess quality of their goods and tax returns among others.
The notification letters, mostly served during the long President’s Holidays weekend, gave the Chinese nationals seven days to leave the country.
However, the Chinese nationals, most of whom own warehouses and sell mostly merchandise ranging from furniture, clothing, shoes, bags, jewellery, cosmetic lotions, leather goods and electrical appliances among others, are protesting against Siele’s decision to throw them out of Botswana.
On Thursday, lawyers acting for Lin Hong, He Mei Zhi, Deng Jin Di, Wu Dong Ming, Gong Wei Qui, Chan Jian Feng, Bi Ying Xia, Guan Rui Sheng, Wang Yu Bao and Bi Xiao Bo, Bayford and Associates and another law firm, Otto Itumeleng Law Chambers, gate crashed a conference of the Administration of Justice to try and halt the deportation notice by minister Siele.
By Thursday, most of the Chinese nationals had just less than 24 hrs to vacate the country.
Justice Lot Moroka’s court was forced to convene on a Phakalane Estate conference room to urgently hear at least two cases involving about 13 Chinese nationals who are on notice to vacate the country.
Appearing on behalf of Wu Guibin, a Chinese business woman who stands to be separated from her husband and family, attorney Otto Itumeleng urged Judge Moroka to suspend the decision for his client to leave Botswana, arguing that the minister has not disclosed reasons for seeking to kick out Guibin from Botswana.
Itumeleng told Moroka that his client was in the process of challenging the notice through an application for a review, adding that if thrown out of the country his client would be unable to launch such an application.
He said that his client, who has stayed over 10 years in Botswana, could lose property over night despite the possibility of an erroneous decision by the minister.
Unfortunately, when the case was heard, government was not represented.
Appearing for eleven others, lawyer Dick Bayford told Moroka that he was also concerned that his clients had not been given a hearing as required by law.
He said that it had taken time for his clients to bring the matter before court because there were not conversant with either English or Setswana language.
He said that his clients were aggrieved by the minister’s decision and had resolved to take up the issue with the High Court after 30 days and, therefore, pleaded with the Court to temporarily suspend the notice and allow his clients to continue staying in Botswana pending the review application.
However, the subtle exchange between the lawyers and David Moloise, for the Attorney General, agreed to allow the Chinese national to stay in Botswana pending their case to challenge Siele’s decision.