Illegal fishing rages on at lake Ngami

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MAUN: Illegal fishermen along the Lake Ngami do not appear to be afraid of ghosts, said to be on the prowl, zipping up and down the lake’s expanse.

Apparently, the fishermen visit the shores of the lake in the middle of the night to cast their nets.

Assistant superintendent Moutlwatsi Ikobeng of Sehitwa Police station told The Monitor in an interview that since March they have investigated 16 reports of illegal fishing on the lake.

Fishing is currently prohibited at the lake after the government decided in March to suspend fishing after concerns of overcrowding and degradation of the environment.

The fishermen allegedly fish to export to Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo markets.

The suspension runs until March 2016.

Ikobeng said lots of fishermen go to the river banks at night while others have formed secret camps on the islands within the lake whence they launch illegal fishing expeditions.

He said all the fishermen arrested are not from Sehitwa nor any of the neighbouring villages along the lake.

Last year, a resident of Sehitwa, Pringle Dithapo warned of ancient ghosts that could be seen walking on the waters of Lake Ngami.

He said they could be the reason for drowning incidents, which claimed 16 lives between 2013 and 2014.

Dithapo warned that the lake was haunted and dangerous and visitors needed to be on guard whenever they are in the vicinity of the lake.

Meanwhile Sehitwa chief Kandu Kandu has told The Monitor that he has so far sent four men to prison for illegal fishing at the lake.

These are: Kelebeng Tongwane,40 of Shashe ward, Obusitswe Tomeletso, 28, Itumeleng Ntshebelang, 35 and Kayambo Kamanga,39 all from of xakao village.

They were tried in two separate cases for illegal fishing. Kandu said all the perpetrators were charged in accordance with Fish Protection Regulations, Section 3 of the Fish Protection Act.The regulations issued last year, stated that no person should with effect from March 1, 2015 undertake any fishing activity at Lake Xau and Lake Ngami.

Meanwhile the Department of Wildlife and National Parks has intensified patrols on the lake in a bid to curb illegal fishing.

The patrols are being conducted in partnership with the Botswana Defence Force.

Hundreds of fishing nets have been retrieved from the lake and they were destroyed as their owners could not be found.

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