NARRATING: Motlaleselelo

A family mourning the passing of a loved one, gored to death by an elephant.

It is a familiar scene in Ngamiland and it played out again last weekend.

For the family ofGonewamangLishoniLekgowa, a 36-year-old poler killed by an elephant in Ditshiping on Sunday (22 September), the news of his sudden passing hardly came as a surprise.

“We co-exist with these animals. For many years we have been living in peace with them. But in recent years these animals have been killing our people. We all know that our area is just an open tomb, a graveyard. Anytime we can be attacked and killed in an instant. It is not only the bush that is not safe, they attack us even at our doorstep!” reflects the deceased’s younger brother, Gaoganebatho Lishoni Lekgowa.

His eye’s red raw with grief, there is a sense of resignation as Gaoganebathotalks about his brother’s death.

“I don’t know whether to call it fear or what, but such is life in Ditshiping. We are used to it. We live to die.”

LYING DEAD: Suspected elephant

Gonewamangwas killed as he hurried home from the riverside, where he worked as a poler for the Okavango KopanoMokoro community tourism project.

Taking over the narrative, the deceased’s cousin, Luke Motlaleselelo revealed Gonewamang was on his way to meet his brother when he ran into an elephant that had been terrorising villagers earlier in the day.

According to Motlaleselelo, who is also an area councilor and a professional guide, Gonewamang was alone when the incident occurred and thus there were no witnesses.

“He was found later by the same group he had left at the river lying dead in the bush. They suspected he was killed by the elephant which had earlier charged at some lucky residents who escaped unharmed.”

The elephant was hunted down the following day and executed.

Motlaleselelo, who was at the scene when the beast was shot down, explained it was easy to spot the offending animal.

“We identified the killer elephant easily because it had isolated itself from the others. It also had blood stains on its trunk and tusks.”

At the time of going to print, the deceased man had been taken for post mortem to confirm if the deep wounds cutting across his stomach, chest and thighs were indeed caused by an elephant.

“It is important for the postmortem to be carried out because the incident happened during elections time. We do not want people to speculate and start accusing politicians of rituals. We want the investigations to be done for justice to take its cause,” explained Motlaleselo.

SHOCKED: Lekgowa

The deceased, according to family members, is survived by two younger siblings.

“His father passed on two years ago, so he was the one who was taking care of his father’s homestead. He was a hardworking young man who participated in community projects. He sold fish and was a canoe poler. He was a friendly person who loved making jokes,” said his aunt, 71-year-oldBoduleLekgowa.

Gonewamang was buried on Sunday at Wenela ward in Maun.

He was killed two days after eight hunting licences were issued through a raffle held at Maun main kgotla. It is said 5, 000 people applied forthe licences but only eight were granted.