WINDHOEK, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- A Namibian government lawyer told the High Court Wednesday that 46 foreigners who had been languishing in police cells since Dec. 2016 were being detained illegally.
The lawyer, Sylvia Kahengombe, said this when she testified in the case brought to the court by the Ombudsman John Walters regarding the detention of the illegal immigrants.
Walters filed an urgent application Friday against the home affairs, the chief of immigration, the Immigration Tribunal, the safety minister, the Namibian Police Inspector General, and the station commanders of the police stations in Windhoek, Katutura, Wanaheda and Seeis, where the immigrant were being detained.
Judge Shafimana Ueitele, who heard the case Monday, postponed it for a week to allow the defense lawyers representing more time to prepare their response to the Ombudsman's application.
Kahengombe's admission, however, came earlier after the defense had investigated the circumstances around the detention of the foreigners from Zimbabwe, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kenya.
Judge Ueitele then ordered that the immigrants should be released forthwith and be dealt with according to the provisions of the Immigration Control Act.
According to the Immigration Control Act, immigration officers are not allowed to detain illegal immigrants for more than 14 days.
In the case of an extension, the Act says the home affairs minister is the only one who can do so but not for more than 14 days.
If immigration officers fail to finalize their investigation to verify an immigrant's legality in the country, the Act further says, they must then release the immigrants after asking them to pay a guarantee.
In this case, one of the 46 immigrants had been in custody since Sept. 2016, while others had been held since Dec. 2016.