Talks are underway between Namibia and Botswana to extradite ex-Dukwi refugee prominent leader, Felix Kakula, and four others to answer questions on their involvement in the secessionist attempt to secede the former Caprivi Strip from Namibia in 1999.
A Botswana online newspaper Mmegi reported last week that Kakula and his colleagues Nervous Lutambo, Richard Mosupali, Mikini Smith and Gasper Machana, have been in custody at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants (FCII) since September 2019.
Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Likius Valombola, confirmed to New Era yesterday that Kakula and his co-accused are still wanted by the Namibian police to answer to questions related to their alleged involvement in the botched attempt to secede the former Caprivi.
"The five remaining refugees are still wanted, they are wanted by the Namibian authorities - both governments are currently in talks for their extradition," said Valombola briefly yesterday.
Kakula and four others were the leaders of a group of 2 400 Namibians who fled the country in the '90s and settled at the Dukwi refugee camp in Botswana following secessionist attempts of Zambezi region (formerly Caprivi) from Namibia.
By 2018, about 2 100 had returned home and integrated into society but many others refused to leave, fearing that it was not safe to return home. It is a stance that has irked Botswana to the point that the government has revoked their refugee status, meaning they are now considered to be illegally in that country.
By October last year, the last of the 777 former Dukwi refugees were deported after a ruling by the Botswana Court of Appeal nullified their refugee status.
Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Frans Kapofi late last year announced in parliament that the government had availed a cash grant of N$3.6 million to former Dukwi refugees who were at the time deported from Botswana, for integrating them back into the system.
He said the money was made available due to the refusal of the former refugees to sign up for voluntary repatriation under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Had they signed the agreement, Kapofi said, former refugees would have been entitled to a UNHCR repatriation package of N$3 800 per individual aged 13 years and older, and N$1 300 per minor below the age of 12, as per the tripartite commission agreement.
Kapofi said that on top of the N$3.6 million, government also gave food rations to last for three months per individual, building materials per household and transport to their respective villages.
In August 1999, an armed conflict erupted between the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA), a group aiming for the secession of the Caprivi Strip led by former politician, Mishake Muyongo, and the Namibian government.
The main eruption occurred on 2 August when the CLA launched an attack in Katima Mulilo, occupying the state-run radio station and attacking a police station, the Wenela border post, and an army base. Namibian armed forces quashed the attempt at secession within a few hours.
Working on solution... The Namibian and Botswana governments are in talks to extradite the remaining ex-Dukwi refugee leaders from Botswana.