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Botswana court rules BDF acted in self-defence

Botswana court rules BDF acted in self-defence

Zorena Jantze

Magistrate Taboka Mopipi has ruled that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) cannot be held criminally liable for the deaths of four Namibian fishermen who were shot dead by the BDF along the banks of the Chobe River.

Brothers Tommy, Martin and Wamunyima Nchindo and their cousin Sinvula Munyeme (a Zambian national) were shot at and killed by BDF soldiers on 5 November 2020 at night after they allegedly went on a fishing expedition. The four men were perceived as poachers and shot.

Kasane regional magistrate Mopipi stated that findings into the inquest showed that the BDF had no intentions to kill the fishermen and that the force fired in self-defence.

Mopipi stated that no guns were found on the fishermen or in the river by the BDF or Namibian police drivers, and as such she could not make a conclusive ruling on this.

It was stated that a post-mortem report into the deaths of the fishermen from Namibian authorities was not accepted as the doctor which carried out the examination was not qualified to do a post-mortem, while the report from Botswana came from a qualified physician and as such was admitted as an exhibit in court.

Namibian Lives Matter spokesperson Sinvula Mudabeti, disheartened by the ruling, stated that the movement has exhausted all local remedies in trying to find justice for the slain fishermen and stated that they will be filing heads of arguments with the United Nations.

Charles Siyauya, another organizer of the Namibian Lives Matter movement, shared that human rights protection in the Zambezi region is a matter of concern, saying that government efforts in protecting the human rights of the region’s people are not satisfactory.

He further shared disappointment in a lack of legal presentation for the case from the Namibian side, saying that Botswana had six legal aid representatives whilst Namibia was represented by one lawyer which would at times find himself seated in the public gallery.

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