BOTSWANA: WITNESS EXPOSES GOVERNMENT
24 May 2005
Cross-examination of a key witness in the court battle between the
Kalahari Bushmen and the Botswana government has exposed the government's given reasons for the evictions as false.
Jan Broekhuis, Assistant Director in charge of the Central Kalahari Game
Reserve, admitted in court that he ignored a 2001 Bushman proposal to
maintain their water supply at zero cost to the government. He said it
was government policy not to provide water inside the reserve. Yet the
government has claimed it evicted the Bushmen because providing water
was 'too expensive'.
Under cross-examination Broekhuis also admitted that the figures he had
produced indicating a decline in wildlife numbers in the reserve were
unreliable. The government has claimed that that the presence of Bushmen
in the reserve negatively affects wild animals, despite several independent studies showing that wildlife numbers have doubled in the
last ten years.
The government also claims that it evicted the Bushmen from their land
in order to bring them 'development.' But Bushman lawyers drew Broekhuis's attention to a report, presented to government in 1999,
showing that Bushmen evicted to New Xade resettlement camp in 1997 were
facing hunger due to poor hunting grounds and insufficient rations, and
that alcoholism was rife. Only eighteen months after the report was
submitted, the government evicted several hundred more Bushmen to New Xade.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'While the Botswana government struggles to justify the shambles of its 'relocation policy',
the condition of the evicted Bushmen gets worse by the day. The
government is rapidly losing what little credibility it had left. It
must end its oppression and let the Bushmen go home. This will save both
the Bushmen and the country's standing on the world stage.'
SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL NEWS RELEASE
Photos and footage available. For more information contact Miriam Ross
on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org