Behind the enchanting facade of pristine luxury lodges and superb wildlife, the Okavango Delta which has become the playground of Hollywood movie stars and international business oligarchs has been hiding a dirty little secret which is now threatening the future of Botswana’s most famous tourist site.
An American rape victim and her family have made public details of her attack in an attempt to shame Botswana police and prosecutors into action over a case implicating a boss at one of the Okavango Delta luxury camps.
After failing to get Botswana police to investigate and prosecute the alleged rape, the American family has roped in the #IShallNotForget campaign movement to publicise the case and have engaged a private lawyer, Thabiso Tafila of Minchin and Kelly for private prosecution.
The victim who was raped eight years ago, two weeks after her fifteenth birthday by a lead tour guide is back in Botswana with her family seeking justice.
“There are many good people who understand how wrong these crimes are, but not enough is being done to identify and prosecute the rapists and sexual predators who hide among us. This is a crime which crosses national, cultural and social divides. It is vitally important that people are able to report crimes because it is a way of protecting future victims. Most importantly they need to be listened to seriously”, stated the rape victim now 23 years old in a statement she wrote after failing to get help from Botswana authourities.
The Okavango rape scandal may be a setback for Botswana tourism, coming at a time when more British national than ever are showing interest in the country.
British travel organisation, ABTA recently predicted that Botswana will attract more British tourists than rival destinations which boast white sandy beaches and aquamarine blue seas. A research by ABTA revealed that British holidaymakers were planning more city breaks than beach holidays as tourists trade sun for sights and Botswana was a favoured destination.
Botswana is the only African country in a list of 12 international destinations that were listed as favourites for British tourists.
Austria was at the top of the list, followed by Botswana, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Japan. Abta said British holidaymakers have been playing it safe in recent years, but next year more than a third (35 per cent) think they will travel to a country they have never visited before. The report produced in association with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, also found that the ‘destination celebration’ is growing in popularity as more groups travel abroad for weddings, anniversaries and stag and hen trips.