Zimbabwean ambassador to Botswana, Thomas Mandigora, has refused to comment on the incident in which three Zimbabwean citizens who are facing criminal charges were recently found in possession of Emergency Traveling Documents (ETD), which came into their possession whilst they were in remand custody awaiting trial in Gaborone.
Although his secretary confirmed that the ambassador had received our questionnaire long ago, he had not answered it or, at least, given an indication that he would do so when we went to press on Monday.
The three Zimbabwean accused were recently remanded in jail, pending the hearing of their trial by Gaborone’s Extension Two Magistrate Abigail Masiwa, who says that releasing them on bail might not be in the interest of the state, bearing in mind that if convicted they risk being sent to prison for a period of twenty years.
The three are Bekezele Ncube, Leader Ndebele and Kgololosego Phephe.
An official of the Zimbabwean Embassy has told the Court that one needs to be present in person to be given an ETD. A source in the Department of Immigration says that the incident that remanded prisoners could have such sensitive travel documents says a lot about the way the documents are released in the embassy and called for deep investigations to find out how the documents ended up in the suspects’ hands.
”I think this needs to be thoroughly investigated to learn more about how it happened and to see how this can be stopped from happening in the future,” said the source but declining to be named on grounds that he was not allowed to speak to the press.
According to him, this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
”My worry is that there could be more of such documents in the hands of other Zimbabweans staying in the country illegally,” he said. Zimbabweans running away from difficult economic difficulties in their country are known to be applying all types of tricks to remain in Botswana.