JUDGEMENT RESERVED AS BASARWA FIGHT FOR RETURN TO CKGR
More relocation cases will keep resurfacing at Botswana’s courts of law if government does not allow Basarwa to stay in their ancestral lands.
This was the daunting observation made by Jumanda Gakelebone, the spokesperson of the First People of the Kalahari (FPK) on Monday after the hearing of their case in Gaborone.
Gakelebone told journalists covering the case in which Basarwa who were not part of the 2002 and 2006 landmark relocation victories are fighting for the right to stay in the game reserve.
“We were not involved in drafting the constitution because we did not know our rights. Now we know our rights.
If we are going to earn our rights through court cases then there certainly are going to be more court cases.
The coming generations are going to find their way back home to the CKGR via the courts and the international community will be watching,” he said much to the delight of the scores of his tribesmen and women who had attended the hearing.
Duma Boko, the instructing attorney in the case represented the applicants after their UK based lawyer, Advocate Gordon Bennet was allegedly denied visa by immigration authorities last week.
Gakelebone said he believed that government was deliberately trying to deprive Basarwa of their right to stay in their ancestral land.
“Government says Bennet applied for the visa late, but we’ll see if they will grant him the visa in the next application.
I’m very doubtful about that because this is a war against us not Bennet.
They know that he knows our case better and has beaten them twice at it,” Gakelebone said.
The Basarwa spokesperson said government knows the lifestyle of his people and that there was no need for them to fight relocation battles in the courts.
“I’m told Jeff Ramsay came here as a historian and I believe he is better placed to advice government on our history and tradition,” he said.
Gakelebone made a passionate plea as he told members of the media outside the courtroom that government needed to appreciate and respect the Basarwa way of life.
“When you see me following an antelope you shouldn’t just see the animal.
You should see me too,” he told the journalists.
“You have to also ask yourself why there is always an animal whenever you see me.
Other tribes found us living by hunting and gathering as a way of life and if you deny me that right and expect me to take yours, its racial discrimination.
Government keeps saying it doesn’t exist but it does.
We need to kill this kind of discrimination and keep our good image as Batswana. Then there won’t be a reason for foreigners to peep into our affairs,” he said.