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Minister says govt has complied with Basarwa case decision

Staff Writer
Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse has said that government has complied with a December 2006 High Court decision to allow a group of Basarwa to return to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) without the requirement of obtaining entry permits.

The group moved to the High Court after the government relocated them from their settlements in the CKGR.  Answering a parliamentary question from Ngwaketse West MP Mephato Reatile, Seretse said that the Basarwa are allowed entry into CKGR together with their spouses, minor children and property and livestock such as goats.

He said the dispensation has been extended to all those who were minors at the time of the relocation in 2002. Seretse said that for purposes of verification and to ensure that only those referred to in the judgment are permitted inside the CKGR, some form of identification is required by wildlife officials every time they wish to re-enter the reserve.

He stated that though the court found that government's refusal to issue Special Game Licences (SGL) to the applicants was unlawful and unconstitutional, it does not mean that they enjoy automatic rights to the licences.

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"But they are free to apply for them and their issuance lies at the discretion of the Director of Wildlife and National Parks," he explained.

He said that the Wildlife Management and National Parks Act (Cap 38:01) prohibits hunting inside game reserves and national parks, save for scientific purpose. "The judgment did not render unconstitutional existing laws, which continue to apply," said the minister.

Meanwhile, a few minutes after the minister addressed Parliament on the issue, Survival International issued an Internet statement accusing the government of arresting and jailing six Basarwa for hunting inside the CKGR.

The organisation condemned the arrests as outrageous and an act of hypocrisy by the government, "which is still refusing to respect the ruling of the country's own High Court that the Bushmen must be allowed to live freely on their land. Forbidding them from hunting for food is illegal".



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