Overstaying Becomes Endemic

“Foreign nationals remaining in Namibia unlawfully after the expiry of their visitor’s permit are becoming a problem,” stated a magistrate on Wednesday.

Magistrate John Sindano made this observation when she convicted an Ethiopian national for contravening Namibia’s Immigration laws yesterday.

Ibrahim Shembu Surur, 34, pleaded guilty to overstaying in Namibia for two months and 25 days after his transit permit for the period December 2 2013 to January 2 2014 expired.

He was arrested on March 27 after an Immigration official requested to see his passport and it was discovered that he was an illegal alien. His lawyer Annethe Jason confirmed Surur’s guilty plea and claimed he was in the process of applying for a work permit when he was arrested.

She said that Surur came to Namibia in search of a better life and was going to work for a family member who owns several shops in the country. She however said her client had decided to go back home to Ethiopia when he is released from police custody.

She asked the court to take into consideration that Surur is a first offender who pleaded guilty at the first opportunity granted to him and did not waste the court’s time.

Surur will take the first flight back to his home country after his release and will pay for his own plane ticket. Defence counsel Jason proposed a fine of N$3 000.

Verinao Kamahene who represented the State did not mince his words when he addressed the court in aggravation. He said that offenders like Surur have no respect for Namibia’s laws.

According to him, the offence is becoming a headache for the authorities as foreign nationals take the law into their own hands in grave violation and total disregard of Namibia’s laws that were put in place to protect her citizens.

Kamahene said the court must send out a g message, not only to the accused, but to likeminded individuals as well that such unbecoming behaviour will not be tolerated. He proposed a fine of N$5 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment.

In sentencing Surur, the magistrate Sindano said he had taken both counsels arguments, plus the personal circumstances, into account in deciding the punishment.

According to Sindano while he agreed with the sentiments of the State, each case must be considered on its own merits. He said the accused was a first offender who pleaded guilty and there was nothing on record that suggested the accused was an individual with substantial means. Also, he said, the fact that the accused will purchase his own ticket to return to Ethiopia counted in his favour.

In the end Sindano sentenced Surur to pay a fine of N$4 000 or in default spend 12 months in jail. He paid the fine.

Source : New Era