ZIMBABWEAN SHOOTING VICTIM TURNED BACK AT PLUMTREE BORDER
He had been receiving treatment at Mahalapye hospital up until the order to deport him came on Monday. Ncube, who is an illegal immigrant, was turned back after immigration officials in Zimbabwe refused him entry.
The 23-year-old Zimbabwean, whose story was reported exclusively in The Voice last November, created worldwide interest when he lost his arms after his brutal employer shot him following a dispute over pay.
The Botswana Government’s move to deport Gift Ncube has apparently come as a shock to the Zimbabwe Embassy despite reports that the two countries were in ‘high level’ talks to regularise his travel documents.
Ncube, who has been in Botswana illegally for the past 10 years, was refused entry at the Plumtree border post after Botswana immigration officials attempted to hand him over to their Zimbabwean counterparts.
It appears that certain documents relating to the transfer were missing as well as a query over arrangements for his return to attend his case once it came to court.
His Motswana employer Keitumetse Khunowu from Radisele has remained in custody since the November shooting.
Ncube is currently at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants awaiting a decision over his fate.
The reasons behind the Botswana Government’s decision to rush through his deportation remain unclear after efforts to get an official comment failed prior to our deadline on Wednesday evening.
The 23-year-old Zimbabwean, who lost both his parents at an early age, would have difficulty looking after himself in his home country due to his condition and the fact that he has only an aged aunt in Harare to care for him.
He has a four-year-old son with his Motswana girlfriend Linah, and even though she was willing to stay with him in Zimbabwe, she is also currently without the necessary travel documents.
The young man told The Voice that he does not understand why the authorities have turned their back on him.
“Since you published my story in the paper I have received many offers of help from people here, but although I clearly explained my situation back home all my pleas to stay, at least until the case comes to court, have fallen on the deaf ears of the Botswana government,” he said.
Meeting briefly with this reporter in Francistown, who since breaking the original story in November has become a friend, we were at least able to provide provisions for the journey and make arrangements to help him financially in Zimbabwe.
Rubbing his face with the still bandaged stumps, Ncube’s eyes cloud over as he contemplates his uncertain future. He shakes his head and adds: “On a number of occasions I planned to commit suicide, but as you can see without hands even that becomes difficult,” he said with grim humour.
“This whole thing continues to be like some horrific dream – especially since there are times I imagine I still have the full use of my limbs.
“I cry for my mother because if she was still alive I would at least have a home and someone to care for me. I don’t know how I have sinned to deserve such a torture in life,” he added before being whisked away to resume his journey.
Nametso Nkarabang, a Gaborone woman who read about Ncube’s situation in The Voice and expressed her willingness to accommodate Gift until his case was finalised, expressed shock at the suddenly turn of events.
“I don’t know why our government is doing such a thing to this guy especially since he is an orphan and cannot fend for himself.
“I cried helplessly when I heard that he was going to be deported, but there was nothing I could do. I am glad the Zimbabwean authorities did not accept him at least it gives us a bit of time to help.”
The self employed woman expressed concern over the way he was being treated.
“I know he is here illegally, but it was Motswana who did this to him and I would have thought our government could have been more compassionate.
“The action of our immigration department does not reflect well before the eyes of the international community who are obviously having great interest in the story of his shooting.
Ncube’s lawyer Enoch Mazonde said although he understands that his client was still an illegal migrant, he does not see why that was speeding his deportation.
He also pointed to human rights organizations like Ditshwanelo who should stand up to assist Ncube fight for justice.
“The decision is simply conflicting with the pillars of the country’s Vision 2016, calling for a compassionate and caring nation,” Mazonde said.
While the Zimbabwean Ambassador in Gaborone was not available for an official comment, it appears that the Embassy was not even alerted over Ncube’s sudden deportation.
Officials were known to have been in diplomatic talks over options on how he could be assisted while still in the country.
But without communication from either the police or the immigration authorities in issuing the necessary papers, it appears that there was little they could do except hope that the authorities would use their discretion to assist him.
For his part Government Spokesperson Dr Jeff Ramsay, said Ncube’s deportation would not have any impact on Botswana’s international reputation.
“The deportation will in no way tarnish the reputation of the country because the immigration department is following the necessary procedure.
It’s unfortunate that in this incident a person was shot, but this is a criminal offence that will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.