2/10/2005 2:56:02 PM (GMT +2)
Lead state counsel Sidney Pilane has disputed a statement by
expert witness, Arthur Albertson that hunting and gathering could
sustain the Basarwa inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
||When cross-examining the
ecology consultant at the Lobatse High Court on Tuesday, Pilane
said that the Basarwa have actually gone to court to force the
government to re-instate food rations and other basic services to
the CKGR. The Basarwa have filed a case seeking to block their
relocation from the CKGR and the re-instatement of government
In his reports, Albertson stated
that hunting and gathering could adequately and sustainably
provide basic nutritional needs for the residents of CKGR. However,
asked to comment on an affidavit by Basarwa activist Roy Sesana,
Albertson declined saying it is difficult. He said for older
people the food rations would be essential, as they cannot carry
out hunting and gathering. However, Pilane said Sesana’s
affidavit referred to young and old people who required the ration
because they were destitute.
Albertson explained that
residents could be entirely sustained on veld products and food rations
can only be used when they are available. He said at the time he was
conducting his research for Basarwa pressure group First People of the
Kalahari (FPK), there were families who relied heavily on veld products
and the food rations were arriving erratically. “Some even said they
had not received them in several months,” Albertson said.
Pilane insisted that Basarwa
have come to court stating that food rations were their essential basic
need but Albertson said he could only comment on the context of ecology.
Reading statements from
Albertson’s research documents, Pilane said that even in his (Albertson’s)
statements, he had attributed to the unsustainability and inconsistency
of hunting and gathering.
Meanwhile, Albertson said
that he had identified the ‘most important’ 21 plant fruit species
that were used by the residents of the CKGR. He said there well over 100
species that he had not listed and that he used to have the information
in the raw data. However, he no longer has a complete record of the
species. He said that he generated the 21 species he presented in court
from memory. He said he was already familiar with plant food species and
his knowledge came from his research in the general investigations of
land use patterns. Albertson said although he made notes during his
research, he no longer had the data. Albertson was commissioned by FPK
to prepare reports and produce a large-scale map. However, he did not
furnish the FPK with the list of the plant species. He said he looked at
six different areas, namely Metsiamanong, Molapo, Mothomelo Gope, Kikao
and Gugamma for the most important plant species. He determined the most
important species by observing the frequency by which the residents
collected them and what they told him. He said he did not decide on the
percentage of people to question and neither did he divide the people he
questioned on plant species into age and gender. “Methodology changes
and can be adapted as you go along - if you are not sure of how many
people.” Albertson said that he spent weeks (two to 10 weeks in each
area) trying to get information. Although he had said he had made six
trips to the areas, he however relented when probed further that it
would have been eight trips in total. He said he had certainly travelled
more than once to each settlement and could provide estimates of what he
remembers. Albertson said he did not have reliable numbers of people in
each settlement. He said many residents were away hunting and gathering
but that the FPK had done an extensive registration of people with names.
He said most people he had talked to were older and had a good
understanding of the most important species of plants. Albertson said he
did not prepare a questionnaire before proceeding with his study but he
had a clear idea in his mind. He said his questions were written down
but he did not have a list. He observed the residents gathering the
plants and eating them but did not record who was eating. “People eat
all the time.” Albertson said in his study, he needed to find out how
people use land especially veld products. He said he set out to study
both the diet of plant food for people and wild animal though he had no
Pilane quipped that there
was an advantage in documenting data. He said if Albertson did not have
information on the numbers of people he talked to, then how could he say
they were representative of those in the villages.
Pilane shouts to quell
whispers in court
2/10/2005 3:14:40 PM (GMT +2)
The lead state counsel in the Basarwa relocation case, Sidney Pilane
seems to hate whispers - especially by his learned opponents in court.
To register his dislike on Tuesday, he did the opposite at the Lobatse
High Court. He shouted in court.
||When he was cautioned by
one of the judges in the three-man bench, Justice Maruping
Dibotelo to lower his voice, he said he was irritated by the
whispers of Basarwa lawyer, Gordon Bennett. Pilane was not happy
that Bennett kept whispering to him when he (Pilane) was
cross-examining expert witness Arthur Albertson. “I want answers
from him, not you,” Pilane told Bennett while pointing at
Albertson. He said he had been encountering such interferences
from Bennett in his cross-examination.
Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi
said that Bennett was entitled to stand and raise objections but not to
whisper. It was not the first instance that the judges had to intervene
to calm a heated exchange between the two lawyers.
Tuesday’s cross-examination, Albertson who had been asked to comment
on the state expert witness, Dr Kathleen Alexander’s evidence of an
eco-region map said it appeared to be accurate. However, he said that to
pass a proper judgement, he needs to know the source.
He later stated that he
disagreed with the map in regard to the eco-system in the Ngamiland area
and the description of vegetation.
He said he had studied
eco-systems of Botswana but not eco-regions. Albertson said he had not
studied all eco-types of Botswana. His extensive studies of the
eco-systems covered the northern and western parts of Ngamiland, the
western boundary of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and inside the
CKGR, Kgalagadi District and North East Districts. He said he had done
other scientific research for different clients.
Albertson is an ecology
consultant called by Basarwa as an expert witness. He was hired by the
Basarwa pressure group the First People of the Kalahari (FPK) to study
and map the CKGR and train Basarwa. The Basarwa have gone to court to
stop their relocation from the CKGR by the government.