BOTSWANA’S President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, during a one day official visit to Namibia expressed regret over the loss of Namibian lives at the hands of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), particularly along the Chobe River bordering the two countries.
His sentiments come a couple of months after three Namibian fishermen and their cousin, a Zambian national, were gunned down by the BDF while reportedly fishing at night in the Chobe River.
Masisi, accompanied by a large delegation, further stated that Botswana shares its longest land border with Namibia, and that the two countries have issues of mutual interest and challenges.
Masisi further noted that following the gunning down of the four fishermen by the BDF, there has been consternation in both countries.
“I offer my profound condolences to the family and express regret over the loss of any life. One life lost is one life too many,” Masisi stated.
He, however, denied that Botswana has a ‘shoot to kill policy’ and explained that the label was simply falsely given as shooting incidents at the hands of his country’s military personnel have happened repetitively.
It is estimated that close to 40 Namibians have been gunned down by the BDF on suspicions of poaching.
Despite these occurrences, Masisi stated that it is the responsibility of governments to sit down and sort these issues out and eliminate any further incidences of such a nature.
Asked why the joint investigation report has not been made public, Masisi responded that as the incident took place in Botswana, there is judicial process to follow.
“The matter is sub judice and I strongly advise against making the findings of the report public until authorised by a competent court,” Masisi stated.
On his part, Namibian President Hage Geingob said the matter is currently being handled by the Botswana authorities.
“We discussed the unfortunate killings of Namibian citizens that happened in Botswana. Somebody said I am a spokesperson for Botswana. Lets show some respect as lives were unfortunately lost, but when you dictate to me what to do, you’re not going to get that from me. There are courts which will follow-up on this issue which is in Botswana’s jurisdiction,” Geingob noted.
In an unrelated matter, Geingob added that his government will see how Botswana can use Namibia’s harbour effectively.
In matters relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, Masisi said that Botswana has shared an elaborate plan on how the two neighbouring countries can collaborate on procuring the COVID-19 vaccine, adding that the relation between the two countries has been elevated to a bi-national level.