Nine South African Muslims were deported back home to Cape Town from Namibia on Tuesday for allegedly breaching the conditions of their stay by engaging in “religious work” after entering the country on visitors permits.
Namibian Islamic Judicial Council (NIJC) head Sheikh Desmond Dawid Tjipanga told The Namibian newspaper that he believed the group was placed under surveillance by police and officials from the Department of Immigration upon entering the country through the Ariamsvlei/Nakop border post.
Tjipanga said the group members were first stopped and questioned by the police who photocopied their passports and released them.
Shortly after the encounter with police, the Muslims were arrested by a team of immigration officials while performing prayers at a mosque in the Keetmanshoop area.
“They (immigration officials) demanded permits which allowed the group to undertake religious activities.
“The group could not provide what was demanded and they were arrested and subsequently deported,” he said.
Further, Tjipanga said the arrest of the group, which was in the country to “strengthen the brotherhood with fellow Muslims”, was a clear act of discrimination against Muslims because their faith is anchored on daily prayers, even while on holiday.
Keetmanshoop head of the Immigration Directorate, Patrick Ntupi, confirmed the deportation of the South Africans but declined to give reasons for it.
He said the group was handed over to South African officials at the Nakop border post.