Friday, December 3, 2021

Botswana’s rights body enters controversy over shot Namibians

Ditshwanelo-Centre for Human Rights has waded into a controversy in which Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is accused of harassing and killing Namibian citizens suspected to be poachers along the border shared by the two neighbouring countries. 

This is revealed in a letter that Ditshwanelo Director Alice Mogwe addressed to Namibian Lives Matter movement based in Namibia and spearheading a campaign against the BDF’s alleged killings. 

Mogwe acknowleged that the Government of Botswana has begun an inquest into the shooting and killing of Tommy Nchindo, Wamunyima Nchindo and Sinvula Muyeme which will start on 15 November 2021. The inquest will take place at the Kasane Magistrate Court. 

“Resources permitting, we intend to have a representative to observe the proceedings,” said Mogwe. 

She also informed the Namibian Lives Matter movement that: “As regards the 73 Namibians, please provide us with further details-names, dates of the executions and any other information which might help us when we engage the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security under which Botswana Defence Force (BDF) falls.” 

The movement had written to Ditshwanelo and other NGOs as part of its effort to publicize the campaign against BDF’s alleged killings. 

Namibian Lives Matter has poured scorn on Botswana Government’s decision to open an inquest in the case of that country’s citizens gunned down last year. 

In a document seen by this publication, Namibians Lives Matter movement states that the decision to open an inquest in the case of the Nchindo brothers is nothing but miscarriage of Justice. The four Namibians and their Zambian cousin were shot dead by the BDF last year on suspicion that they were poachers while their compatriots insist they were fishermen. 

“As far as we know, Murder cases in Botswana can only be tried by the High Courts in Botswana which are situated in Francistown, Gaborone and Lobatse and appealed at the Court of Appeal. Yet the government of Botswana opts to treat a case of murder as an ordinary case. There is no murder case that can be heard in Kasane or any place in the Chobe District. This exercise is a miscarriage of Justice,” the movement states in one of the documents. 

They stated that Botswana government is just displaying a smokescreen by taking an approach that puts Botswana to an advantage adding that the autopsy report and the joint investigation report should have been tested in a competent court of law. 

“What Botswana is doing is not new, exactly nine years ago, Botswana murdered two Namibians (Nyambe and Munguni on 17 July 2012) using the shoot-to-kill policy that they are now denying. The BDF claimed that Nyambe assumed a retaliatory mode when asked to freeze,’ the Namibian Lives Matter said. 

However, the movement said, there were several apparent inconsistencies in the military’s version of what transpired that night:

The movement said an inquest report found that Nyambe’s bullet wound was in the back of the head, suggesting he was fleeing when he was hit. Previous autopsy reports proved that BDF killed people that were fleeing yet the BDF official version said otherwise. It is for the same reason that the autopsy report of the slain Nchindo brothers will not be released by Botswana because what is in the report clearly implicates BDF.

“The bone of contention here is that Botswana is clearly not taking the death of the Nchindo brothers as a serious matter that warrants serious consideration. That’s why Botswana is not taking this matter to the High Courts of Botswana, which are not in Kasane. This is but a cosmetic inquest that Botswana opened as an extension of Botswana’s highly manipulative and cunning system,” Namibian Lives Matter argued.

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