Court victory for one Bushman family

November 1, 2005

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The Botswana High Court ruled on Friday 28 October that the government must allow Bushman Amogolang Segootsane and his family to return to their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It must also return his goats to him and allow him to bring water into the reserve.

Segootsane brought his case after he was prevented from going back to his home in the reserve. The government closed the reserve in September and removed all the Bushmen's goats, claiming they were diseased. An international panel of vets dismissed this reason as ‘spurious'.

Dozens of Bushmen have been evicted from the reserve at gunpoint in recent weeks. Three Bushmen, including a seven-year old boy, have been shot and wounded. All the Bushmen involved in the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari were arrested and beaten when they tried to enter the reserve last month.

Tshatlha Ntwayamogala, who was evicted from the reserve this month, told the Telegraph newspaper, "They told us, ‘when you leave this place, you leave as volunteers.' So we said ‘if we are volunteers, we don't want to go.' They began threatening us. They told us, if we stay behind, they will end up killing us. One of the police said ‘if you don't move, you will all be killed'."

Survival's director Stephen Corry said of Friday's court victory, ‘This is great news. We're very pleased that the rights of the Segootsane family have been upheld by the court, although it remains to be seen whether the government will abide by the court's ruling. Now the government surely must also allow all the other evicted Bushmen to return home.'

For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]