PRESS RELEASE 25 March 2017
WHERE IS RETIEF KANGONGO? IS HE DEAD OR ALIVE?
Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) have since last year, April 2016, been unaware of the where abouts of it’s Deputy Chairperson, Retief Kangongo, save for Namibian Police’s report in May 2016 suggesting that he fled to Botswana and was he kept in Francistown Center for Illegal Immigrants.
However, CCG received two different and disturbing information regarding him on Thursday, 23 March 2017. One recieved via text message from a certain Victor Muluti of a Namibian cellphone number +264814559383, stating that Kangongo died in a car accident in South Africa, and another from two reliable sources within Namibian Police force saying he was deported from Botswana back to Caprivi Strip.
CCG independently confirmed the same day, on Thursday, through its own ‘satellites’ that Kangongo was taken out of the Center of Illegal Immigrants by Botswana Police on Tuesday, 21 March 2017, and did not return to the center since then. It is believed, from some information obtained within the Namibian Police force, that he was handed over to the Namibian Police the same day.
CCG made consultations with his family yesterday on Friday, in the Caprivi Strip, to accertain itself if the Namibian Police handed him over to the family, or if the family is aware of his whereabouts but the family unequivocally denied knowledge of his deportation or whereabouts, and they too fear that the Namibian POLICE may have harmed or killed him. All indications show that he is under the custody of, or he is to be fully accounted for by, the Namibian Police, whether he is dead or alive.
It is however not clear as to whether he came back home through proper repatriation process or proper deportation, that is whether due process was followed. In any case, be it deportation or repatriation, as far as we know there is no reason to keep him in prison or harm him in any way as members of the Police Force at Katima Mulilo Police Station confirmed that there is so far no criminal case opened against him.
If the information alluding that he died in a car accident is taken as a clue, or anything closer to the truth, it would be conclusive that the Namibian Police have killed him and they are looking for a cover up story. The nation knows very well that Government of Namibia wanted him to be deported, of which his deportation would be celebrated by Sabastian Ndeitunga and his force, and he would be negatively paraded publicly through state media, therefore, the deafening silence from the Namibian Police since his deportation is scary and worrisome.
Retief Kangongo is the Deputy Chairperson of CCG, a peaceful civil rights movement in Caprivi Strip, and he disappeared on Friday, 29 April 2016, following threats against CCG leaders by the Namibian Police Chief, Sabastian Ndeitunga published in a daily newspaper the same day. Even after Kangongo’s disappearance, Ndeitunga continued to threaten leaders of CCG, calling them “bandits” and was reported calling on his counterparts in Zambia and Botswana to arrest CCG members if found in their countries and “bring them” to him “as Christmas boxes” to deal with them.
On September 02 2016, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights requested the Namibian President, Dr. Hage G Geingob, to “intervene” and “ensure” that the Government of Namibia “provides clarification” and “refrains from” as well as to “fully” investigate systematic violations of a whole range of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in and about the Caprivi Strip.
Though it remains unknown whether Botswana denied him asylum and what other options were offered to him in that case, there are clear and convincing grounds that he fled to Botswana in fear of persecution and he was presumably a de facto refugee. The Refugee Convention, adopted in 1951, is an international instrument which placed legal restrictions on State parties’ power to expel foreigners. Article 33 lays down the prohibition of refoulement according to which no State party “shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
We suspect that Kangongo’s deportation or repatriation did not involve UNHCR, or follow due process, and we seriously fear that the Namibian Police may have harmed or killed him. We therefore demand his immediate release from Police Custody, or explanations of his whereabouts or circumstances thereof, to his family from the Namibian Police and Immigration Officials.
We further request other human rights and faith based organisations such as NamRights, Council of Churches in Namibia, Redcross Society of Namibia, and Amnesty International to demand same or independently investigate this case.
Edwin M. Samati
Caprivi Concerned Group
Cellphone number: +264 81 496 0827