Bushmen Appeal To Botswana's President Mogae
Bushmen appeal to President
On the first anniversary of their historic court judgment, the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari released an open letter to Botswana's President Mogae, detailing the ways in which the government is still preventing them from returning to their ancestral land.
On December 13 2006, the Bushmen won the right to return home to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, from which they were evicted by the government in 2002. Their right to hunt on their land was also recognised.
In the letter, the Bushmen write that they are not allowed to use the water borehole on their land, nor are they allowed to hunt, and many of them require visitors permits to enter the reserve.
The letter requests the government to properly investigate incidents of torture, beating and harassment of Bushmen living in one of the resettlement camps outside the game reserve.
Dear President Mogae,
On 13 December it will be one year since we won our court case against the government to be allowed back home to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
As you know, the court found we had been illegally and unconstitutionally made to leave our land. It found that the government had acted against the law when it stopped issuing hunting licences to us in 2002 and that what was done to us was tantamount to condemning us to death.
If the court found all these things, why are we still not able to go home?
* We have been denied access to our water borehole
* We have been told we may not hunt
* We have been arrested, beaten and tortured for attempting to hunt
* Many of us have been told we need visitor permits to return to our own homes
We have been given no assistance to fund our return home, even though the government spent many hundreds of thousands of pula to evict us. Since the government acted illegally when it evicted us, surely it should pay for us to go back home?
Our people are poor and they cannot afford petrol. Like all people, they cannot live without water and without access to food.
When will the government start working constructively with the people from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve? We have waited one whole year already. We can't afford to lose any more time - our people are dying.
Please, President Mogae, help us to go home. Let us use our borehole. Let us hunt, as we are legally allowed to do. Let everyone who wants to go home be allowed to go without needing a permit. Investigate the wildlife officers at Khutse gate and prosecute the ones who are guilty of torture and abuse of Bushmen. When you leave government, let it be on a positive note.
of the Kalahari,
on behalf of the people of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
First People of the Kalahari
PO Box 173