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By: Eba Kandovazu

The police in Oshakati was left in shock on Sunday after an immigration official who drove from Eenhana instructed them to free undocumented eight Indians.

On the same day, over 170 Angolan illegal immigrants were deported to Angola.

According to Oshana Regional Commander Rauha Amwele, the official said that the order came from “above”.

“We are not sure what the official meant when they said that. They just said that the order was above, and that is what police officers were informed. Maybe it was an order from someone above the immigration officer who came. We had no choice but to release the Indian nationals because the immigration officers are in charge of immigration matters and complete all the paperwork. I didn’t speak to the person in charge, so I cannot really say it was suspicious,” she told The Villager.

Amwele confirmed that over 170 illegal Angolan immigrants were arrested and escorted to the border to return to Angola. She said an operation with immigration officials and Nampol started on Saturday and ended yesterday.

According to her, two Chinese nationals were also found with no documents. Efforts to deport them are underway. She said the deported Angolans were vendors.

Amwele, who initially said that the release of the illegal Indian immigrants on instructions by an immigration officer was a first of its kind, added that today, upon further inquiry, the Indians indeed had permission to stay in the country, terming their detention a “misunderstanding”.

It is unclear whether or not the Indian nationals are related. Amwele said it is also unclear what the Indians are doing in Namibia.

“This is the first incident where police officers are instructed to let go of illegal immigrants. Upon further enquiry, I was told that they had documents and that someone else brought them to the police station. Home affairs issued the documents. I cannot say the officers made a mistake because they did not have documents when they arrested the Indians,” she said.

She also could not say how long the Indian nationals were detained.

Deputy Director of Immigration in Eenhana, Chrispin Kamwi, said he compiled a report on the incident, directed it to the ministry’s head office in Windhoek.

“I have forwarded the report to head office. It is an internal report,” he said.

A report tabled in Parliament in 2019 suggested that between 2015 and 2018, at least 510 illegal immigrants, mainly from Zimbabwe, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were arrested, while only 103 were deported to their respective countries.

A Zimbabwean publication said a high number of immigrants are reported to be seeking urgent travel documents to flee the burgeoning economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

Millions of Zimbabweans have fled their native country since 2001 to escape political and economic turmoil under the late president Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Reports are that a number of Zimbabwean nationals who have made their way into Namibia eke out a living as streets vendors selling brooms, shoes and clothes, amongst other things. In contrast, others offer their technical expertise to a country that faces some skills shortages in the workforce.

Eba Kandovazu

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