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Tensions rise at Botswana, Namibia border

SHARON MATHALA
Commander of BDF Gaolathe Galebotswe at PAC..PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The Namibian police were over the weekend forced to restrain themselves against alleged provocation and brutality by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) at the neighbouring countriesí border post.

The alleged incident, as reported in the Namibian media, comes barely two weeks after the Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Segakweng Tsiane asserted before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that there is no bad blood between Botswana and Namibia.

The Namibian Sun Newspaper reported yesterday that the Namibian police were forced to keep their cool after the BDF forcibly removed Namibian fishermen before setting their huts on fire.

 “The drama unfolded on Saturday morning, when the BDF pounced on the Namibian fishermen, destroying their temporary structures, canoes and other belongings. Four temporary fishing camps along the Linyanti River, believed to belong to Namibians, were gutted by fire after a raid allegedly carried out by the BDF,” the newspaper reported.

The newspaper further allege that the Namibian Special Field Force (SFF) soldiers summoned to the area by Zambezi Regional Police Commander, Boniface Mukendwa, could not cross the river as they were not equipped with boats, and did not have enough human power and no Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that showed the two countries’ boundary lines. SFF Warrant Officer, German Johannes, said they could only observe the helicopter activity and smoke billowing into the sky from the sites pointed out to them as those belonging to Namibians.

The article continued,  “The BDF on Saturday morning pounced on the Namibian fishermen and women living at the

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camps, claiming their reed structures were built on foreign soil and that they were conducting illegal fishing activities.

During the raid, clothes, identification cards, passports, fishing permits, food stuff, beds, cooking utensils, including large blocks of salt, were all burnt near Mawunga village in the Linyanti Constituency”.

The Namibian Sun further stated that, “According to the victims, an unknown number of Namibians ran and hid in the reeds, while many others were allegedly rounded up during the raid which started at 07:00. Of those allegedly arrested, two are women with two children under the age of six, Another victim Precious Muyoba narrated she was left with only the clothes she was wearing and that her husband Eustace Kasale phoned to inform her that he is in the custody of BDF at the Kachikau Police Station in Botswana, along with two Namibian women”. BDF Protocol and Public Affairs office declined to comment saying that it is an issue between two countries and the questions should be addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

During the PAC briefing, Tsiane said that Botswana and her neighbours, including Namibia have a forum where heads of security organs meet and discuss ways to fight poaching and was confident that incidents where poachers were shot and killed have very low potential to cause any diplomatic standoff between the two countries.



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