Bushman hunters arrested at gunpoint and tortured

April 12, 2006

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Eight Bushmen were arrested at gunpoint, threatened with death, and tortured last week before being held for a night in prison and charged for hunting in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana.

One of the men, Vitanon Mogwe, told Survival, ‘The wildlife officers told our families they would shoot us and kill us so we ran for two days to the next village to hide. When they found us they pushed their guns into our chests and asked us what should stop them killing us right now.'

The eight men were tied to a pole for a day in a press-up position, and kicked and beaten if they tried to move.

The men are currently living in Kaudwane resettlement camp, having been evicted from their land in the reserve in 1997 and 2002. They are all listed on the charge sheet as ‘unemployed'. The Botswana government banned hunting and gathering in the reserve following the 2002 evictions. The evicted Bushmen, who lived mainly by hunting and gathering, are now dependent on government ‘destitute rations'. One Bushman at Kaudwane told Survival, ‘I am doing nothing, and I'm suffering from hunger. That's why you're seeing us eating dogs.'

The persecution, arrest and torture of Bushman hunters in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve has been going on for about two decades, and has intensified in recent years.

Another group of four Bushmen were arrested for hunting in the reserve earlier in March. Two of the four were also tortured.

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