Botswana: families of those killed by Botswana army find themselves without support

The National Council’s Standing Committee on Home Affairs, Security, Constitutional and Legal Affairs found that some families who have been traumatized by the Botswana Defense Forces (BDF) in the Zambezi region, and loved ones lost, ” are left to their own devices “.

Some have not yet received psychological support.

This is according to a report on the security situation along the Chobe // Kwando and Linyanti rivers in the Zambezi region between September 31 and October 6.

The report was presented to the National Council on Monday by Kabbe Sud constituency councilor and committee chair John Likando.

“The committee noted that some families who have suffered deaths, and even lost loved ones due to the BDF assault, are left to fend for themselves. These families are doing everything possible to seek clarification of the events that led to the deaths of their loved ones. .

“They received no psychological support to deal with the trauma,” the committee said.

Among the traumatized families is the Nchindo family, who lost relatives to the BDF on November 5, 2020.

It is estimated that more than 37 people, including a nine-year-old child, died at the hands of BDF between 1990 and 2020.

The committee recommended that the Zambezi Regional Council coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide psychological support services to bereaved families.

The committee also called on constituency councils representing communities where people have lost their loved ones to ensure that they receive the recommended psychological support.

The report also mentions the loss of sense of national security among those residing along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwando rivers.

The committee found that these people were constantly harassed by BDFs and that normal household chores, such as collecting water from the river, cutting reefs and grazing animals, became life-threatening activities. .

“The normal daily activities of the communities have been totally disrupted by daily clashes with BDF soldiers along the river, and sometimes within the communities themselves,” the committee said.

According to the report, the committee also discovered that BDF members are applying the draft code of conduct of the treaty which is still under discussion between the two countries on the conduct to be held with the communities in the region.

The committee found that there are no established coordinated reporting channels on incidents in the areas.

“There is a visible disconnect between the testimony about the number of atrocities and killings that have taken place in the region and the number of cases officially reported to the Namibian police,” the committee said.

The committee found that there were only two visible beacons installed along the Kwando River, and none in the Chobe and Linyanti rivers.

The absence of this vital border demarcation is one of the main factors contributing to exposing local communities to BDF aggression, he said.

“Communities living along the rivers do not know how far they pass the Botswana side of the river when carrying out normal fishing activities, nor how far they can graze their animals and what areas they are allowed to go to. cut reeds. to build their homes, ”the committee said.

He found that, according to the 2018 border treaty between Namibia and Botswana, border markers must be rehabilitated and maintained.

According to the treaty, the two parties are further required to conduct a joint border inspection every five years to verify whether the parties are adhering to what has been agreed.

The committee also noted that the government of Botswana has started to operationalize the draft treaty code of conduct that guides tourism activities along rivers.

“It is not applied in Namibia, but has a negative effect on tourism activities in the region. Bilateral discussions between the two sides to resolve the issues are ongoing, so it is premature to expect any drastic changes be made immediately, ”the committee said.

Andreas Uutoni is the vice-chairman of the committee and the other members are Philemon Ndjambula, Daniel Kuuoko and Elkan Hainghumbi.

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