A group of Zimbabwean men sustained severe injuries after they were caned on the orders of a chief in Botswana for entering that country illegally.
The nine men said they were forced to undress and were caned on their buttocks.
Five women who were also part of the group were ordered to pay varying fines.
They were then detained for one day at Gerald Prison in Francistown.
The group was later deported to Zimbabwe on Tuesday afternoon and reportedly made a report at the Plumtree Border Post Police Base.
One of the victims of the assault, Ezekiel Mukuya, who is from Chivhu, said he spent three days unable to sit because of the severity of the injuries.
He said he was arrested on June 29 at Tati Siding in Francistown while on his way to work.
“I work in Botswana as a tout and on the day that I was arrested, my passport had a problem. I was intercepted by the Botswana Police around 9am while I was on my way to work.
“They loaded us into a vehicle together with other illegal immigrants and we were taken to the homestead of a chief in the area who was identified as Chief Nkgageng,” he said.
Mukuya said he and the other men were separated from the women, taken into a room where they were ordered to undress.
They were ordered to lie down on the floor and were each whipped on the buttocks with switches by the chief’s security officers.
Mukuya said he sustained cuts and bruises as a result of the assault which made it impossible for him to sit.
“When we were taken to the chief’s homestead, we appeared before his community court.
“We begged to be pardoned after pointing out that we were in their country just to make a living and not to cause any problems, but they would not entertain us.
“The chief told us that we would receive six cuts as corporal punishment for being in the country illegally. I am still in pain but at least I can now sit, though not comfortably,” he said.
Mukuya said he felt violated as he assumed that illegal immigrants had to be taken to court and then deported.
A woman who was part of the group, Finance Moyo of Mambale area in Mangwe District, said she was arrested on June 26.
She said she and other female deportees were not caned, but were ordered to pay fines.
Moyo said she was not given any receipt as proof of payment after tendering 200 Pula.
A senior police officer in Plumtree said they engaged their Botswana counterparts and were told that according to their law, the chief’s customary court was recognised.
The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said chiefs are responsible for giving corporal punishment of six cuts.
He said all nine men sustained severe injuries on their buttocks as a result of the assault.
Illegal immigrants have in the past fallen been caned in chiefs’ courts in the neighbouring country.
Recently, 35-year-old Oscar Kani of Mkhubazi Village in Mangwe, died after he was allegedly severely assaulted by Botswana Police for illegal migration.