Sunday, March 3, 2024

Shoot to kill anti-poaching policy comes under renewed scrutiny

Botswana Police Service is not aware of ”a shoot-to-kill” policy which Minister of Environment Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama claims has been adopted and is proving to be successful as an effective deterrent against poaching.

This comes after Botswana Defense Force stated they have killed three poachers whose nationality they are not able to identify.

Botswana Police Service, Head of Communications Senior Assistant Superintendent Christopher Mbulawa could not discuss any possible charges that might be laid against some BDF officials who were involved in the gunning down of the three alleged poachers.

Mbulawa  admitted that they are investigating a matter in which some law enforcement agents were involved in the fatal shoot out with poachers in Kwando area in the northern part of Botswana.

”The BDF officers did not make a confession statement. It is a statement of fact that poachers were killed and died on the spot during a shoot out with BDF officers. It is an unfortunate incident and as the police we are investigating the circumstances. It would be a miscarriage of justice to pre-empt the results but I would suggest to the public to wait and allow the investigations to complete. We cannot rush to conclude and charge the soldiers who were on operation on the basis that they have admitted killing the poachers,” said Mbulawa.

“The other issue that should be taken into consideration is what if our soldiers had been killed during the shoot out. What message would the ┬ánation receive? These officers were on a national security patrol and we should not sensationalize how they kill poachers,” said Mbulawa.

He said that the law enforcement officers were on a national duty when poachers disturbed their operations of protecting the territorial integrity and the interests of Botswana.

But an insider within the BDF said there were 8 poachers who were carrying 4 elephant task and elephant meat. The insider said the BDF intelligence got a tip off and waited for the poachers to finish their mission but on a return to their respective locations their lives were cut short as they were ambushed and four were killed on the spot. Another drowned in the river when trying to escape across the border.

He said the other two were arrested and handed to the police, while another suspect’s whereabouts are unknown, said the insider.

But Botswana Defense Force Head of Protocol and Public Affairs, Colonel Teko Dikole when responding to The Telegraph questionnaire, could not provide information that there were 8 poachers involved in the whole incident and that some were arrested and one eaten by a crocodile.

The Telegraph had wanted Dikole to confirm that eight poachers were seen with four elephant tusks and some elephant meat before some of them were killed by the BDF officers during patrol and that one of the poachers was eaten by crocodiles while trying to escape after he was shot by BDF officers.

“Speculation about poachers’ numbers and their modus operandi will not in any way contribute towards enabling the BDF to accomplish its mission and no poachers have been arrested in the particular incident and nationality of those killed is not known,” said Dikole

Dikole said the BDF is not in the habit of pre-empting the outcome of enquiries by any competent relevant authority. He was referring to any possible charges the BDF may face for killing the poachers.


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