Thursday, July 18, 2024

Namibians seek to prosecute BDF soldiers

Botswana Defence force (BDF) soldiers who are reportedly implicated in the fatal shooting of four Namibians are more than likely to face criminal charges as a Namibian protest group intends to haul them before the High Court in that country.

A movement which identifies itself as Namibian Lives Matter told the Namibian press recently during a press conference that following a delay by Botswana and Namibian Governments to make the outcome of joint investigation into the killings of the four men gunned down by BDF personnel last year public, they intend to approach the High Court in their country to have the soldiers responsible prosecuted.

The spokesperson of the movement, Sinvula Mudabeti, has said despite promises for an incident-free-future between the two countries, the BDF recently crossed into Namibian territory illegally to harass Namibians living along the borders of the two countries in the Zambezi region. 

Mudabeti informed Namibian reporters that on 15 January this year, two BDF military choppers landed with 15 soldiers armed with assault rifles and started questioning some farmers who were tilling a piece of land in that area.

“Mr Zachariah Mashazi and his workers were interrogated on his own land by more than 15 BDF soldiers. The incident occurred at 09h00, while people were busy working on their land. The first helicopter dropped three soldiers and went back to fetch more soldiers. The soldiers introduced themselves and were on patrol and were on a mission find out about the area,” he reportedly said.

According to Namibian press, Mashazi was also interrogated about his family, who allocated him the land, the number of cattle he had and why they did not have ear tags among others.

Mashazi is reported to have asked the soldiers why they entered Namibia illegally and their alleged response was that they were on patrol. The police were reportedly called to the scene and arrived later when the helicopter had already left.

Mashazi reportedly stated that the BDF called him on 19 January demanding more details from him. He reiterated that they intend to take up the matter with the High Court as the Namibian Government has allegedly failed to protect people living in the Zambezi region.

“We are also considering petitioning the African Commission on human and people’s rights. Our legal experts will soon draft heads of arguments for further transmission to the African Commission against the Namibian and Botswana governments,” he reportedly said. Mudabeti poured scorn on a joint report that was recently released by Botswana and Namibian Governments arguing that it should have been accompanied by the investigation report.

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