Shifeta stands his ground

The environment minister has reiterated that no compensation will be paid if someone behaves negligently and is killed by a wild animal.

30 April 2018 | Environment

The environment and tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta, says he will not apologise for saying that the government will not pay N$100 000 compensation for people killed by crocodiles and hippos while swimming or washing in northern rivers despite warnings not to do so.

The remark went viral on the social media and was not well received in certain quarters.

One of the critics was the governor of the Kavango West Region, Sirrka Hausiku, who said on national television that Shifeta was “insensitive” and asked him to withdraw the statement.

Shifeta made the remark earlier this month while launching the Maurus Nekaro Conservancy in Kavango West Region.

He advised that people living along the Kavango River should collect water from the river and immediately move away from it before washing clothes or bathing.

He also warned people fishing in the river to be vigilant and watch out for hippos and crocodiles.

Speaking at Omauni in the Ohangwena Region on Saturday, Shifeta said he would not apologise for what he had said while explaining the new provisions for compensation to farmers or communities for losses caused by wild animals.

“Let me use this opportunity to clarify the payment of the N$100 000 for human death which has now been provided in the revised National Policy on Human-Wildlife Conflict Management, particularly with regard to people killed while swimming or washing clothes in the rivers,” Shifeta said.

Shifeta said compensation schemes implemented elsewhere proved to be problematic and open to abuse.

He said in terms of the Human-Wildlife Conflict Self-Reliance Scheme, when there is a human death caused by wild animal, the objective of the scheme was to meet the moral obligation of the government to support a family that lost a member under conditions where the deceased person could not reasonably have been expected to defend him or herself.

He said many cases of human-wildlife conflict happened along the rivers in the two Kavango and Zambezi regions, which are inhabited by crocodiles and hippos.

“If a person swims in the river, or washes clothes while standing in the water knowing that there are crocodiles and hippos in the river, we will definitely not pay N$100 000 for that death because that is a situation that could have been avoided.

“That has nothing to do with our community traditions and culture, it is simply negligence.

“If a person is in a canoe on the river fishing, with the necessary required permit, and an accident occurs where such canoe is attacked by a hippo, then payment can be done because fish consumption is part of the people's livelihood,” he said. Hausiku promised to respond to the minister's latest statement but nothing had been received by the time of going to print yesterday.

ILENI NANDJATO

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