Racial profiling often targets Africans in Malaysia, says Namibia envoy

The Immigration Department logo is seen at its headquarters in Putrajaya January 10, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
The Immigration Department logo is seen at its headquarters in Putrajaya January 10, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 — The Namibian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Anna Namakau Mutelo, has accused the Immigration Department of conducting racial profiling on her two nephews, the Sunday Star reported.

According to Mutelo, the Immigration Department had in the past done a lot of profiling, with Africans as its targets.

Mutelo's accusation came after she alleged mistreatment by an immigration officer against her and her nephews.

She has since filed a complaint with Wisma Putra on the alleged mistreatment.

Previously the ambassador to Ethiopia and Sudan before her posting to Malaysia, Mutelo said that the detention of her nephews was a case of racial profiling by Immigration.

“In Malaysia, there is a lot of profiling, especially targeting Africans and our students.

“Mainly Africans were pulled from the line; that’s why I think it is a case of profiling.

“I travel a lot, so when I come out, pass through Customs and Immigration here, there are a lot of people but they will always try to pull me out to check my luggage.

“In my case, I do not allow that. After I show them my diplomatic passport, they let me go.

“But why should they pull me out when everybody else is let through?” she asked, adding that she planned to lodge a police report on the incident.

Mutelo had, in a protest note sent on August 15, said she and her nephews were subjected to “unlawful harassment, arbitrary detention and malicious ill-treatment” by an officer at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) from 6.25pm to 9.16pm last Monday.

According to her, nephews, Adventure Simataa Simasiku and Roydie Mabengano Simasiku, both aged 31, were pulled aside upon arriving at the immigration checkpoint from Namibia after a 22-hour flight.

The 60-year-old described how her nephews were then directed to a room away from the passport control counter.

She said she was waiting at the arrivals hall for her nephews when she received a text message from them informing her that they had been stopped for questioning.

As a diplomat, Mutelo utilised her airport entry pass enter the immigration checkpoint to find out what was going on.

“I asked why their passports were taken from them. They were put on a tray in the office.

“They were waiting to be called. So I wanted to ask, and that’s when a rude officer intervened.

“There were other officers there who were handling other people who were mainly Africans, who were also pulled aside from the main immigration queue, ” she said in an interview on Friday.

The envoy, who was posted here in 2016, said Adventure decided to record the incident on his mobile phone but was shouted at and told to delete the footage, which he eventually did.

However, she said her nephew who is a software engineer managed to retrieve the footage.

She added that after presenting her diplomatic card, she asked about their detention and told the officer that they should be allowed into Malaysia if there were no irregularities.

Mutelo said that at this juncture, she had the passports thrown at her by the officer and was told to stamp them herself.

This was not Mutelo's first encounter, she claimed, as she previously experienced similar problems with her brother, Mcebisi Ndhlove, 33, who also landed on Friday and was allegedly stopped by immigration officers.

“This was despite me having sent a letter to the department prior to his arrival.

“When I went over to get him, I was asked to provide my bank statement.

“The same rude officer was there and delayed my brother’s entry into Malaysia until 10.30pm, ” she said.

In a response, Wisma Putra secretary-general Datuk Seri Shahrul Ikram Yaakob confirmed that the protest note had been received, adding that a report on the incident involving the envoy and her nephews had also been received from Immigration.

“Wisma Putra is looking into the issue,” he added.

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