A Gaborone City Council member, Sergeant Kgosietsile, used his turn on the floor during a full council meeting to agitate for the release of the passport of the Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone.
The withholding of Mokone’s passport attracted a fair amount of press coverage and when officers from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIC) visited town hall last Wednesday morning to make a presentation on immigration-related matters. Kgosietsile, who is popularly known as “Yellowman” wanted the officers to address a more pressing immigration matter ÔÇô the withholding of Mokone’s passport without valid reason. He demanded that Mokone be issued his passport with no delay. With the situation unravelling slowly, it is hard to tell how effective this intervention was but later that day, Mokone did get his passport.
The latter development ended drama that started when Mokone’s car was broken into at his house. Among valuables that were stolen was his national identity card and passport. Replacing the ID card was easy but the passport proved a challenge. In terms of the Immigration Act, someone who loses their passport has to wait for a full year before it can be replaced. As editor, Mokone occasionally has to travel abroad and as a widower raising two children who are schooling in South Africa, he flies to Cape Town on an almost weekly basis. Where such requirement is to be waived an applicant has to appear before the DIC board of and plead his case – which is what Mokone did. Fortunately for him, the board was sympathetic and he was directed to apply for a new passport and pay the P1000 penalty fee.
However, DIC failed to meet its turnaround time, perpetually postponing the collection date for no valid reason. Finally, Mokone learnt on June 15 that he was being investigated for possible breach of the Immigration Act. While both his parents originate from South Africa, Mokone was born in Molepolole and on account of circumstances of his birth, naturalised when he turned 21. DIC said that it couldn’t find the letter that he wrote in 1989 to affirm his Botswana citizenship. His ordeal reached the public via a Botswana Gazette story that was published last Tuesday and a Gabz FM interview the following day. Later in the day, Mokone got a call from a DIC officer asking him to come to the Gaborone office and collect his passport. The passport was issued on June 12, three days before he learnt about the investigation.