Bushman receives death threats; government starving Bushmen from their homes

September 23, 2005

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The Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana are being starved from their homes by Botswana wildlife officers, reports a Bushman today. Matsipane Mosetlhanyane was arrested inside the reserve on Monday after he tried to stop nineteen armed wildlife officers entering his hut without a search warrant. He was held for three days and is only now able to give interviews.

He reports that in the settlements of Gugamma and Mothomelo, officials have been patrolling day and night with rifles and have been preventing residents from gathering the roots that they rely on for food and for their water supply.

The Bushmen will be forced to leave the reserve within a few days or die of thirst and hunger. Mosetlhanyane said today, 'Everyone in the reserve is very frightened. My family don't even know where I am. People want to die there without food and water rather than leave their homes'.

As the pressure on the Bushmen daily worsens, an employee of Bushman human rights organisation First People of the Kalahari, Jumanda Gakelebone, has received five death threats, including a threat to burn his house down while he sleeps.

Yesterday he was approached by a police officer who said, 'They (the police) are looking for you and they are going to kill you'. Gakelebone stated today, 'Whatever happens, I will continue with the struggle for the CKGR'.

Botswana government officials have reportedly told enquirers that they will have to wait for the death of Survival International's director, Stephen Corry, for the campaign to end.

Mr Corry said today, 'I don't know if this is a threat similar to those made recently to Gakelebone, but of course our work does not depend on me personally. Over 250,000 people have supported our Bushman campaign and it will carry on long after I am gone. We will never be deterred by bully-boy tactics. On the contrary, they make us strive even harder by underscoring why the Bushmen need international help so desperately.'

For further information or photos please contact Miriam Ross on +44 20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]