Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve could not hide their happiness after Government gave them permission to install a borehole inside the Reserve.
It had been a long and costly battle, involving a legal dispute that has gone through Botswana’s legal annals as the longest, most protracted and most expensive.
The dispute only came to an end in January after the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Basarwa, declaring that they were entitled to have access to water inside the Reserve.
Government had always maintained that they were under no obligation to supply Basarwa with water.
Speaking to Sunday Standard after getting a permit from the Department of Wildlife, an activist who has been a part of Basarwa’s struggle for a long time said they have received assistance from a South African drilling company to install an already existing borehole in Motlhomelo, one of the many desperate settlements inside the CKGR.
Jumanda Kelebonye said for the first time in decades, Basarwa in Motlhomelo will this Sunday be able to draw water from their borehole inside the Reserve.
“I can tell you that Basarwa have never been this happy. As I’m talking to you now I am carrying with me a permit from the Department of Wildlife.”
Kelebonye said Motlhomelo is just the first of the many boreholes that Basarwa would want to drill and install inside the CKGR.
“You should remember that there are many settlements inside the Reserve covering vast distances between them. It is impossible that all people could get water from just one borehole,” he said.
He, however, said ultimately it will depend on Government’s willingness to give out more permits.
It has also emerged that a South African company, Vox United, has pledged to install the Motlhomelo borehole free of charge.
Vox United is in the business of installing and sinking boreholes.
A representative of the company said the borehole at Motlhomelo will be using solar energy to save Basarwa the costly inconvenience of importing diesel fuel into the Reserve.
“Yes, it’s true we would have installed the borehole by tomorrow,” said Jacko Van Rensburg.
He said his company volunteered to help Basarwa after reading about them and their plight in the media. He has estimated the total costs of installing the borehole at fifty thousand South African Rands.
“We were deeply touched by their story. It was then that we approached Survival International to see if we could help,” said Van Rensburg.
Survival International is a London based Non Governmental Organisation that has been at the forefront of efforts to get Basarwa back into the CKGR after they were forcefully evicted by the Government.
The borehole will have a throughput capacity of about 3000 liters a day.