Eight Bushmen who were beaten and tortured by wildlife officials in April are appearing in court this week. The men, who were arrested at gunpoint and threatened with death before being held over night and tortured, have been charged with hunting in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
One of the arrested men said, I was very scared when I saw the guns. I thought I would be killed right then. I must hunt or how else can I feed my family?'
The CKGR is the ancestral land of the Gana, Gwi and Bakgalagadi Bushmen. The Botswana government has banned them from hunting and gathering there since they forcefully evicted them to settlements outside the reserve in 2002. Since the evictions, dozens of Bushmen have been arrested for hunting to feed their families.
Jumanda Gakelebone, from Bushman human rights organisation First People of the Kalahari said today, Our people are being made into criminals just for trying to survive. Those animals were given to us by our ancestors and we have always taken only what we need to live. Hunting and gathering is our livelihood and our culture and without it people are now dying every day.'
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