THE Heads of State of Namibia and Botswana issued a joint statement in which they call on citizens of both countries to keep the peace, remain calm and patient after the killing of four fishermen by the Botswana Defence Force during the first week of November 2020.
In the joint communiqué, the presidents of both countries stated that a joint investigation by the law enforcement agencies of both countries has been concluded and the results are currently under consideration by both governments.
Both President Hage Geingob and President Mokgwetis Masisi requested citizens of both countries to strive for an incident-free future.
Both presidents underscored the deepening of bilateral relations and conveyed their commitment to resolving the matter expeditiously and amicably.
“It is envisaged and desired by both sides that joint bilateral efforts will be implemented to avert any recurrence of similar incidents,” the joint statement reads.
The killing of brothers Tommy, Martin, Wamunyima Nchindo and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme by the BDF after they were suspected to be poachers has sparked tensions between the two neighbouring countries where citizens on the Namibian side of the Chobe River engaged in protests. Some of the protests were violent in nature and some damage was done to trucks passing through the border to Botswana and the disruption of cross-border movement of goods and vehicles occurred.
The full communiqués reads as follows:
In the aftermath of the fatal shooting of three Namibian nationals and one Zambian national on 5th November 2020 by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), near Kasane in Botswana, and the subsequent community anxieties in the border areas, the Heads of State of the Republic of Botswana and the Republic of Namibia have deemed it appropriate to issue this joint statement and provide an update on the progress thus far regarding this sensitive and unfortunate incident.
In the wake of the incident, the two Heads of State have assiduously engaged, thus underlining the premium consideration that both leaders attach to the sensitive matter. In their engagement, the two Heads of State underscored the deepening bilateral relations between the two countries and conveyed their commitment to resolving the matter expeditiously and amicably. I n this spirit, both Presidents extended their sincere condolences to the bereaved families, and to the mourning Namibian nation. Furthermore, the President of the Republic of Namibia appealed for calm in the communities affected and to the Namibian people. He assured the nation that the matter was receiving attention by the two Governments, spearheaded by a team consisting of officials from the Namibian and Botswana Police Forces who would conduct a joint investigation.
The joint investigation has since been concluded by the team and is under consideration by both governments. Going forward, an incident-free future is envisaged and desired by both governments and that joint bilateral efforts will be put to play to avert repeat of similar incidents.
Furthermore, on 16th November 2020, Hon. Dr. Lemogang Kwape, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation consulted his counterpart in Namibia Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation assuring her of the value Botswana places in her bilateral relations with Namibia. Minister Kwape also underscored the need for the two countries to resolve their differences in an amicable manner given their strategic and neighbourly partnership.
The President of Botswana accredited a Presidential cabinet Delegation to the Chobe District area to deliver his message in order to diffuse tensions and endure continued compliance with law and order among the communities. The Delegation advised the communities to remain steadfast in jealously guarding their fraternity and sharing of their cross¬ border traditions of compassion and friendship. They also cautioned the communities to resist temptations to express retaliation in whatever form in relation to any previous or contemplated incidents of violence or destruction of property, including disruption of domestic animal movements between the two sister countries. Finally, they encouraged Dikgosi (Chiefs) of the communities across the borders to pragmatically engage each other in order to smoothen collaboration and interaction between families on both sides of the border.
It is also worth noting that both Botswana and Namibia are sovereign and constitutional democracies set up and guided by their Constitutions which are the supreme law of the land in each country. Each country is therefore guided by the values and principles espoused by their respective constitutions, laws, and customs”. This notwithstanding, both countries acknowledge the importance of reaffirming their individual and collective obligations under international and regional instruments to which they are state parties. They both subscribe to mutual legal assistance and the role of cross border support to resolve crime and to reciprocate the required assistance that is mutually beneficial. Both countries commit to following the necessary steps to ensure and see justice being done.
Equally, both Governments recognize the need for adherence to the rule of law and at all times maintain respect for human rights by their respective law enforcement agencies in dealing with cases of this nature and that due process shall be followed by the relevant authorities in dealing with this particular unfortunate incident and similar cases in future.
On the basis of the above, the two Heads of State wish to urge citizens and residents of the Republic of Botswana and the Republic of Namibia to remain calm, patient and maintain their historical ties that are founded on their common culture and mutual respect.