Investigations into the shooting of two Namibian poachers by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) may escalate into a diplomatic spat between Gaborone and Windhoek as the joint commission set up by the two countries seems on the verge of collapse.
The Namibian Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week sent a message through the Botswana Ambassador in Windhoek, Duke Lefhoko, that it does not condone poaching, but called for restraint when using force.
The message came in the background of information that a joint commission by the Botswana Police Service and their Namibian counterparts, which was established to investigate the shootings, was on the verge of collapse. Although the Namibian Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Veicco Nghiwete, issued a statement this week that the joint commission was ongoing, the Namibian media quoted their police chief complaining that Botswana did not seem keen on the commission.
The Namibian police were scheduled to meet members of the Botswana Police Service on Monday. The Namibian newspaper, however, quoted their police chief, Sebastian Ndeitunga, as saying, “I sense some reluctance on the side of the Botswana police to cooperate with us in the investigation.”
While BDF Brigadier Sentsekae Macheng told The Sunday Standard that joint investigations on the matter were complete and findings are in Botswana’s favour, the Caprivi Regional Police spokesperson, Geoffrey Samunzala, on the other hand, maintains that the investigation is still on.
The tension is not helped by the Namibian media led by the state owned newspaper, the New Era and the country’s leading newspaper The Namibian, which are calling for tough action against Botswana.
The Namibian wrote this week that, “The killing of two Namibians, Richard Munguni Siyauya (36) and Bryana Nyambe Nyambe (age not given) who were suspected of poaching in the Chobe National Park by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) on July 17, is the latest reminder of a practice that has been going on for a long time. Too many Namibians have died or were injured by the BDF over the years in instances that point to their shoot to kill on the spot approach to law enforcement.
“The Namibian government has not helped the situation by seemingly taking an indifferent stance towards the actions of our eastern neighbours. Had this matter been taken more seriously earlier we would have witnessed fewer deaths and more fair trials for the suspects. And when our government takes up a case, as it has done with the latest killings, it comes across as making a feeble complaint rather than acting with conviction to send a clear message about a process Namibia fundamentally disagrees with.
Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Namibian Police sounded like terrified children requesting an audience with a bully instead of dealing with an equal partner to solve problems.”