NEWS 2005


Botswana bushmen leaders in court

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

At least 20 bushmen have appeared in court in Botswana after being arrested in violent clashes over the weekend.


Those arrested include Roy Sesana, a traditional elder and leader of a bushmen lobby group.

The bushmen, or San people, were trying to enter the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which the government has sealed off.

The government wants them to move and abandon their traditional lifestyle - they refuse and have gone to court.

The court proceedings were adjourned on Monday to allow a lawyer to travel from the capital, Gabarone, to represent the group and seek bail.


Roy Sesana says he was trying to take water to other bushmen


The violence flared after the police refused to let a group enter the reserve.

"The demonstrators broke into a riot and attacked the police with an assortment of weapons," said a statement from the president's office.

"The police were forced to fire three rubber bullets, one of which hit and slightly injured one of the demonstrators," it said.

Campaigning group Survival International says that 28 people were arrested, including seven children, but the authorities say just 21 were detained.

The government says the reserve has been closed following an outbreak of animal disease.

But Survival fears it is a deliberate policy to move the bushmen out of the area, even though the legal challenge is still in court.

Spokesman Josephine Bobb told the BBC that the police would not even let anyone take water into the reserve.