Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Khama kicks out celebrity American surgeon

A Kasane-based surgeon, Wilson Clay, rushed to court last week to challenge his removal from Botswana.

On Thursday, President Ian Khama cut Clay’s stay short by declaring him an unwanted alien. Clay is an American national from Florida, aged 54, who traded his high pace rat race of multi-million dollar private veterinary practice in Florida for the peace and tranquility of the African bush’s Chobe wilderness.
Dr Clay has been living in Botswana for the past five years, running a veterinary clinic.

On Friday, his lawyers, Lizo Ngcongco and Busang Manewe, filed an urgent application before the High Court, pleading for a cancellation of the deportation order issued by President Khama.

In his filed court papers, Clay accuses President Khama of interfering with the judiciary and wants Judge Lakvinder Walia, who is presiding over the case, to declare so and withdraw the deportation.
Clay contends that the timing of the deportation order raises eyebrows because it has been issued at a time when he is still challenging government in court on a related matter.

He says he has a pending civil case before judge Walia in which he is asking the court to set aside a decision to cancel his work and residence permits.

His resident and work permits, which were supposed to end next year in April, were unilaterally terminated by the minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, in August this year.

He states in his affidavit that he was shocked to learn that he is being deported while his case for review of the minister’s decision was still pending.

He says the deportation is ‘interference with the administration of justice’ and should be held to be contempt of Court because it was done before the court could adjudicate on his pending case.
In his affidavit, Clay, a volunteer and Wildlife enthusiast, paints a picture of a man who is being persecuted for what he is yet to be told.

Since his arrival, he has been of great assistance to the Kasane community and was even contracted by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks as a Park Veterinarian at the Chobe National Park after assisting as a volunteer for some years.

Clay says that the deportation order comes at a time when he has great plans for the area and some have been suspended due to the withdrawing of his permits.

He says he wants to fight poaching and plans to establish a programme for ‘unmanned Aerial vehicle (Drone) to automatically patrol the Park at night and detect poachers’. Other projects include a lion research project as well as a facility for local and international researchers to undertake studies on various aspects of the local eco system.

“All these projects are at different stages of development and have been the subject of discussions between myself and potential donors, but have sadly been put on hold until the issue of my continued residence and work in Botswana have been resolved,” his affidavit reads in part.

“Accordingly, I stoutly deny and refute the assertion that it is no longer in the interest of Botswana that I continue to reside and work here and indeed available evidence of past work, and indeed future plans, point overwhelmingly to the contrary. I do not believe that the relevant officials who cancelled my residence and work permits were aware of my industry and sacrifice since my arrival in Botswana nor my passion and dedication to the preservation of the Chobe National Park,” he adds.

On Khama’s orders, Clay was detained at Kasane Prison and was flown to Gaborone on Friday evening. He is currently a guest at Gaborone Maximum Prison.
Following a short preliminary hearing on Friday, Judge Walia ruled that Clay should not be removed from Botswana until the matter is finalised.

The state, which is opposing the application, is represented by David Moloisi and Kabelo Itseng. The case is expected to be heard again on Wednesday and a ruling is expected on the same day.


Read this week's paper