Caprivi refugees based in Dukwi today (28 June) boycotted a meeting scheduled by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi.
The meeting, arranged for 10 o’clock this morning was graced by a delegation from Namibia, which included three Ministers who were also scheduled to address the aggrieved Caprivians.
However, the delegation arrived to an empty hall, save for three refugees who, looking slightly bemused, sat quietly in the spacious room.
Tension between government and the Namibian refugees has escalated in recent months following the ministry’s decision to enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Caprivians living in Dukwi, which was invoked in 2015.
The Botswana government has given refugees up to 11th July 2018 to voluntarily repatriate or risk being deported forcibly.
The Namibian delegation was supposed to show support to the decision taken by Kgathi’s ministry and urge the refugees to head back home.
However, it wasn’t to be as, after turning up two hours late, they were only welcomed by silent grey walls.
Having waited patiently for the conference to commence, The Voice reporters were chased out of the hall before the meeting started.
Officials from the Ministry explained that the address by the Namibian delegation was private and only open to government media.
News reaching this publication is that refugees wrote a letter to the ministry warning them of their intent to boycott the encounter.
Emotions amongst the Caprivians are said to be running high following the arrest of 12 of their members in Gaborone last week.
A group, led by Felix Kakula, was detained at the SADC Headquarters where they had gone to hand a petition to the regional body.
Meanwhile Minister Kgathi will address the media at Francistown’s Marang Hotel later this evening.