The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, says he is in the dark about claims that government has run out of money to repatriate illegal immigrants.
The minister told The Sunday Standard on Friday that information reaching him is to the effect that there are some illegal immigrants whose countries of origin cannot be established who are held at the Francistown Center for Illegal Immigrants. He would not deny or confirm that government has no money to deport prohibited immigrants and referred all enquiries to the accounting officer.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Segakweng Tsiane, while denying that government has no money to repatriate, admitted it is costly to fly prohibited immigrants to their respective countries.
┬á“It is costly to repatriate. But this does not mean that we cannot repatriate immigrants when the need arises. We are still in negotiations with various governments as to how to repatriate some immigrants some of whom have not met the criteria used for being granted asylum. Do we put them on a plane or transport them by road?”
Tsiane told the Sunday Standard on Friday she would not say how much the government has spent this year to repatriate prohibited immigrants.
The permanent secretary was emphatic that there is no prohibited immigrant kept in Botswana who has not been sent to their country of origin.
She admitted that there are scores of immigrants currently kept at the Francistown detention centre. She would, however, not divulge the total number of immigrants currently at the centre who have to be deported save for the 13 from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Others, she said, are from Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
There have been concerns that Botswana deports persons deemed as undesirable before the rules of natural justice apply.
Meanwhile the Immigration Bill, 2010 (No.13 of 2010) went into a second reading at the close of the current parliament session with the Gaborone West South legislator, Botsalo Ntuane, seeking an amendment of clause 41 (c) to read that a prohibited immigrant “is declared as such, following representation by the State before a Court of Law to warrant such action; any such action must be justified in the Laws of Botswana and subject to issuance of a Court Order. In sensitive cases of national security, representation before the Court of Law is heard in camera.”