The government of Botswana last week stepped up its persecution of the G/wi by arresting and committing to jail six people for hunting in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). Their cases were to be heard in a court on Monday.
According to a news release from Survival International last week, the charges were based on incidents that occurred in 2007 and 2009. The government continues to ignore the 2006 ruling by the country’s own High Court that the G/wi and the other San people who were expelled from their homes in the CKGR have the right to return. The court also condemned the government’s ban on their hunting rights and its destruction of the water resources used by the San.
Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, condemned the government for persecuting the San people. He said that preventing them from hunting in the CKGR, and arresting them when they do, is illegal, “an outrageous act of hypocrisy by the Botswana government.”
The same day that Survival International issued its statement, Mr. Dikgakgamatso Seretse, the Botswana Minister for Defense, Justice, and Security, answered a question in parliament about the rights of the San people who want to live and hunt in the CKGR. He defended the government’s attempts to control the issuance of hunting licenses.
Even though the nation’s High Court decided that the government refusal to issue hunting licenses to the San people was against the law and unconstitutional, he said that still does not guarantee that they have an automatic right to licenses. “They are free to apply for them and their issuance lies at the discretion of the Director of Wildlife and National Parks,” he told parliament. He argued, basically, that the decision of the nation’s supreme court does not really apply to existing laws and procedures, which prohibit hunting inside game reserves.
Several news sources reported on Wednesday this week that the local magistrate found the six guilty of hunting without permits, but released them from jail with only a warning. In contrast to the national government, according to Mr. Corry’s statement yesterday, “the magistrate in this case takes a more humane view of how to treat people.”