The Botswana Defence Force has admitted shooting two Namibian poachers last month in a joint anti poaching operation, an incident that aroused the ire of the Caprivi Regional Youth Forum.
National Coordinator for the Anti poaching Unit in Kasane, Brigadier Terry Matsheng, said the operation is divided in various units, which include the Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS), Wildlife, Police and Botswana Defence Force but each unit has its area of operation.
Chobe and Ngami are the two areas allocated to the BDF and that is where the incident of the killing of the two Namibian poachers by security officers took place.
Matsheng said that the two poachers came into the Botswana side, crossing the border illegally and were all carrying elephant tasks and guns.
“It was around past 11 at night on the 17th of July when the poachers arrived and our soldiers, who were on patrol waited, lay down and waited monitoring their movements after which they alerted the poachers to the fact that they were under arrest but they resisted and threatened to shoot us,” said Matsheng.
He explained that the law requires that they have to first warn then arrest but at that time the situation was different because the two poachers had guns and when they were challenged they reacted in a manner that threatened the security officers, who immediately fired back.
One poacher died on the spot while the other was injured and escaped by swimming to the other side of the river but was captured a couple of days later on the Namibian side.
“The two gentlemen did not comply with our instructions and threatened to fire on us but, unfortunately, they failed as we reacted before them in self defence.”
Matsheng said all the correct procedures were followed during the incident and dismissed the remark made by the Regional Youth Forum as unfounded and wonders where they got that misleading information from.
Namibia media reports said that the Caprivi Regional Youth Forum strongly condemned the killings during a press conference this past week. The organization’s chairperson, John Ntemwa, described the BDF as a unit with no regard for human life.
“It is a matter of grave concern that thus far more than 30 Namibians have lost their lives due to alleged poaching activities in Botswana. Some are just simple anglers trying to sustain their lives by catching fish along the river. Fishing nets have been confiscated too,” said Ntemwa.
He charged that the two suspected poachers were not poachers but fishermen who were only attending to their fishing nets.
Ntemwa accused the BDF of random shootings and killing of innocent Namibians without considering making arrests.
Matsheng said the investigations on the matter are complete and were conducted by both Namibian and Botswana Intelligence Agencies and the results of the investigations are “in our favour”.
The report has been sent to the Attorney General for assessment and the body of the two have long been repatriated to Namibia.