Namibia and Botswana in talks over Zambezi shooting

Over the past two decades, 30 Namibians and at least 22 Zimbabweans have been killed in Botswana anti-poaching operations.

09 November 2020 | Crime

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

Authorities in the Zambezi Region and the Chobe district are investigating a shooting incident involving members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga said.

Soldiers of the BDF are alleged to have shot four men after they were reported to be fishing illegally close to Kasika village near the border settlement of Kasane. This follows queries that were made by the Namibian Defence Force.

Commenting on the incident, Ndeitunga said police were investigating the matter.

“We are making efforts, police in the Zambezi Region as well as in Botswana,” he said.

He added that he had, however, not received an update from his colleagues in Botswana regarding the alleged issue by noon yesterday, and it seemed that police in Botswana were busy.

“Our colleagues [in Botswana], it seems they are not taking calls; they may be busy,” he added.

Lives at stake

Family representative of the deceased, George Nchindo, called on the Namibian government to take action.

“Our life is at stake and we are calling upon the Namibian government to take an action over Botswana because this is too much now,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

“They can’t continue killing our people like this,” he said, adding that the victims were unarmed and were “just going fishing”.

“They [BDF] were already there, they set a trap and they were supposed to just capture them. We are not happy; this is too much.”

Shoot-to-kill

Over the past two decades, 30 Namibians and at least 22 Zimbabweans have been killed in Botswana anti-poaching operations, although Namibian community and rights groups claim the figure could be much higher.

They have urged Botswana to exercise restraint when dealing with poachers, the Mail & Guardian had previously reported.

Anti-poaching operations have also increased border tensions between Botswana and Namibia, amid claims that the BDF has violated Namibia’s sovereignty.

The Namibian government has in the past voiced its opposition to the policy, calling it a “disturbing problem”.

‘Kill the supply’

Botswana’s former environment minister Tshekedi Khama said in a 2013 interview with British film-maker Tom Hardy that it was a necessary intervention.

“It’s a culture; we have to kill the supply to starve the culture,” he said. “That is one of the reasons why, in Botswana, with our anti-poaching unit, we don’t necessarily interrogate the poacher.

“That is a position we adopted to send a clear message to say, if you want to come and poach in Botswana, one of the possibilities is that you may not go back to your country alive.”

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