Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Basarwa’s tears of fear

The ongoing dispute between Government and some Basarwa of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) over the burial of one of their relatives is expected to gobble thousands of Pula.

This follows a decision by the government to escalate the matter to the High Court.
According to Court papers before Justice Jennifer Dube,  the corpse of Pitseng Gaoberekwe still lies in a mortuary and counts 40 days to date (02/02/2022) and “has accrued costs which are draining Council coffers as follows;”

-Mortuary accommodation to the tune of P10, 000.00 (charged at P250.00 per day).
-Handling fee (once off) at P150.00.
Embalming at P1500.00 (circumstantial and subject to increase).
 -Burial service fee to be charged at P300.00.
-Coffin to be procured at P3, 500.00 and transportation of corpse to New Xade to cost P1, 350.00

According to a report by the Ghanzi District Council which forms part of the Court documents, the Council recommended that it, “Desires to evoke clause 6.8.1 and 6.8.2 of the Destitute Policy of 2002 and therefore hand the corpse to the relatives.”

“We further request that the relatives deceased at New Xade as per the cited clauses because keeping him for long is proving to be costly for the Council. Should the relatives still not accede to the request, we shall apply for a court order to bury him with immediate effect,” the Court papers show.  

The Council explained that the conclusion is primarily based on the Destitute Policy of 2002. Council concludes that the deceased has to be buried in New Xade for the following reasons;

It was his place of residence as he has a residential plot in New Xade and it was developed by the Council through Housing Programme.
-The corpse is Covid-19 positive case and has to be buried without any further delays. 
-The deceased is not in the list of 189 permitted CKGR residents as per the High Court neither order nor is in the relocation list to New Xade.

The report shows that on the 10th January 2022, Council Secretary wrote to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development seeking advice on their conclusion and recommendation pertaining the burial of Gaoberekwe.

The Ministry in turn responded on the 11th of January 2022 concurring with the Council recommendation that the deceased to be buried in New Xade where is a permanent resident. Consequently, the Council Secretary and the District Commissioner arranged to meet with the deceased’s relatives on the 12th 2022. The purpose of the meeting was to consult the relatives on the way forward regarding the burial of Gaoberekwe at New Xade.
Three children of the deceased were in attendance as well as some close relatives. Kgosi Beslag, Headman of Arbitration Molao Motshabi, VDC Secretary also attended the meeting.

The objective of the meeting was to map a way forward on the pending burial of the deceased as two parties (Council and the deceased’s family were in disagreement on the place of burial. The family still insisted that the deceased be buried at CKGR as he originated from Metsimanong in CKGR.


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