Ten Namibians, who had been held at Francistown’s Center for Illegal Immigrants for more than eight years as no country was willing to take them for resettlement, have been released into the country.
This is according to Roy Herrmann, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Botswana.
Herrmann said that they are happy that they have been released after such a long time in the center.
“We are obviously happy about this as we accept that their incarceration for such a long time was not in their best interest,” he said.
According to him they were kept at the center for their own protection. Asked where they are currently, he declined to answer the question saying that it was a security matter.
“We can not disclose that for security reasons,” he said.
On the length they are going to be in the country, Herrmann said that he did not know about that, adding that there are plans to find them a country willing to take them for resettlement.
The hope that they will find a country willing to take them for resettlement, he said, was recently boosted by a visit from their headquarters of their senior officers who had came to interview them.
“This development has once more assured us that the men will find a country willing to take them for resettlement sometimes in the future,” he said.
The men from the Caprivi Strip of Namibia crossed into Botswana in early 2000 after having allegedly taken part in an armed bid to secede from Namibia.
The bid was, according to reports, brutally crushed by the Namibian government leading to the men, led by Meshack Muyongo and others, crossing into Botswana.
As they had arrived in Botswana armed, the men were arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to a jail term in Botswana for possession of arms of war.
After they finished their sentences, the Namibian government, wanted the men to be extradited back to Namibia to stand trial for their alleged mutiny.
A lower court agreed that they be extradited as they had not proved their case that they stood to be persecuted if extradited. This was later overturned down by the High Court, which ruled that there were reasonable grounds for the men to believe that they would be persecuted if extradited.
While all this was going on, the alleged ring leader of the mutiny, Meshack Muyongo, was already in exile in an unnamed Scandinavian country.