Deported American doctor insists the Botswana government abused him
BOTSWANA government may soon find itself engaging in an unfriendly dialogue with the United States of America government over the alleged abuse of an American doctor who was deported from the country late last year.
Dr Donald Wells (66) who was declared a Prohibited Immigrant claims his rights were violated when he was thrown into a maximum prison, deported without a reason and without the P468 000 which he is being owed by the Botswana Health Professionals Council. Dr Wells came to Botswana in 2002 and had been working as a private doctor till October 2009 when he joined Bokamoso Private Hospital.
“I have a letter pending with the President of the United States about my ill-treatment in Botswana. My rights were violated and I need my compensation,’’ said Dr Wells in an interview with The Voice last week. Dr Wells was notifi ed of the cancellation of his residence permit on December 3 last year. No reasons were given. He appealed to the High Court, which ordered him to stay in the country until his case could be heard in February. Two days before Christmas, he said, he was arrested at his house in Francistown and thrown into prison.
Wells alleged that prison offi cials refused to allow his wife to bring him any food for his diabetes and refused him treatment for bronchitis. He was then sent back to his country on December 30.
However, Dr Wells suspects all this was because of a High Court case, which he won against the Botswana Health Professionals Council in 2009. “In 2006, I went to renew my registration as a doctor, only to be told I was being suspended because of pending investigations,’’ he said.
BHPC was questioning the authenticity of his medical qualifi cations. After three years of legal battles, the high court, on June 12, 2009 reinstated him, ordering the medical council to pay his back pay and costs totaling P468 000.
“I never got a cent of that money, Botswana owes me and I need that money so I can get on with my life,’’ he said. BHPC was yet to respond to questions on the matter at the time of going to press.
President Khama’s spokesman Sipho Madisa also confi rmed the deportation but referred all questions to the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs while a public relations offi cer in the ministry, Irene Ikutlweng, referred the questions back to the Office of the President. Public Affairs officer at the US embassy, Dan Saint-Rossy revealed that they were in contact with Dr Wells and continued to make appropriate inquiries on his behalf though he said they were not yet aware of his letter pending with their resident.
Meanwhile, Dr Wells’ wife, Rebolokeng Mackenzie-Wells (41), says the deportation of her husband is taking a toll on her as she lost a breadwinner.
“We got married in 2004 and after that I quit work to pursue my studies. He was paying for my education and all the expenses including rent and utilities and now I am struggling to pay for all these things as I am not working,’’ she said.
She said what is also disheartening is that her husband would never set foot in her home country again. The two last met in Zambia in February this year.