By Simon Liseli and Risco Lumamezi
SAFETY and Security Minister, Nangolo Mbumba has strongly condemned the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) actions of shooting innocent Namibians at Caprivi region, when found illegally on their side of the country instead of arresting and detaining them.
Mbumba’s condemnation comes in the wake of the deaths of two Nakabolelwa village residents, Mr. Richard Munguni Siyauya, (36) and Mr. Brian Nyambe, both shot dead after they were allegedly found poaching along the Chobe River that borders the two countries.Nakabolwa is situated 80 kilometres from Katima Mulilo east of Caprivi Region.
Mr. Mbumba has called on his Botswana counterparts to advice their BDF soldiers to refrain from killing Namibians but to rather arrest them, if found committing criminal activities.
“Namibia is trying to build the strong relationship with neighbouring Botswana. These concerns are our concerns, as shooting a person like that is not good as life is expensive and it cannot be returned once taken away” said the Minister.
Mbumba further expressed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families saying what is happening to the Namibian people residing along the Chobe River is bad as far as the loss of lives is concerned, “We are not happy of what is happening”
Though Botswana has a death penalty, He said that suspected criminals or illegal entrants should be arrested, charged and then convicted rather than taking their lives.
The Namibian Constitution Article 5, forbids death penalty and protects right to life as a basic fundamental right that every Namibian citizen enjoys.
“but I do not know what and why something like this is happening. Shooting at people like
animals is not good”.
When Caprivi Vision quizzed Mbumba on why there is no support structure of bereaved families who have lost their loved ones at the hands of the BDF, the minister said remained evasive.
“I am not on a level of such a structure that responds to such queries. It is only the Office of the Prime Minister that has answers to that. My Ministry is only there to protect our borders.” He explained.
Namibia Human Rights organisation (NAMRIGHTS) Executive Director Mr. Phil Ya Nangoloh echoed similar sentiments saying the killings of Namibian nationals will strain the two countries relations and called for immediate talks and solutions that will end the killings.
“We know that Botswana has the death penalty but they must stop doing it to our people, and those behaviours should be ended. They (BDF) cannot shoot people like animals. It is really bad and it does not promote good relationship between our countries,” Nangoloh said.
When contacted for comment, Botswana based Human Rights Organisation, Ditshwanelo in Gaborone, Media Officer Mr. Thuto Galeitfiwe refused to comment on the matter saying the organisation is not aware of the incidents .
“We cannot comment anything on something we are not aware of and do not know anything about. Those matters were not reported to our offices, once we will get more facts on that we will be able to say something” said Thuto.
Family members of the victims of the shootings are worried of the situation as the governments of the two countries are quiet on the matter and their standard of living have changed since they lost people who were supporting them.
However, Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia Mr. Gobotang Duke Lefhoko told this paper that his government through the office of the president, Defence and Security is busy working on the matter to find the amicable solutions.
He said his government and the republic of Namibia has a joint commission on security and Defence that is keeping the two nations with strong relations.
Botswana Ambassador also dismissed recent media reports that he was summoned before the Namibia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Veicoh Nghiwete saying “I initiated talks with the PS on how we should solve this matter.”
At the time of going for press Ms. Maleta Mogwe the Press Secretary to Botswana President
Lieutenant General Ian Khama Seretse Khama, said all questions addressed were forwarded to their Minister of Foreign Affairs in Botswana.
However the Minister replied that a response should come from their ambassador to Namibia.
Namibian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Utoni Nujoma through his Personal Assistant Mr. David Thomas acknowledged that the matter was on the table and that a response would be channelled through to the public soon as he was in Mozambique attending a regional meeting.