Bushman witness 'feared for her life' during evictions

The first Bushman woman to give evidence during the court case in which 243 Bushmen are suing the government for the right to return to their ancestral land has told the court that she 'feared for her life' when being evicted in 2002.

Mongwegi Tlhobogelo described how huge numbers of vehicles and people suddenly arrived at her community in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and ordered that all the Bushmen's huts be dismantled. Her husband had already been relocated without her knowledge. The men then emptied out all the Bushmen's water tanks, and loaded them onto lorries.

Ms Tlhobogelo also described life in the resettlement site of New Xade as 'horrible', with rampant crime and alcoholism.

Earlier another witness, Motsoko Ramafoko, had said, 'We did not want to leave [the Central Kalahari]. We did not want to relocate to New Xade'.

He added, 'First they took our wives, loaded them in the trucks and off they went to New Xade. Then they came for us men… and forcefully removed us against our will.'

Survival's Director Stephen Corry said today, 'The Bushmen are finally being given a public platform to refute the government's claim that the relocations were voluntary – so obviously false and believed only by the most gullible. Now the world is hearing how they were evicted from their land against their will. All the government has to offer them in the resettlement sites is alcoholism, depression and AIDS. All it has to do to solve the problem is to allow them to go home and live as they wish.'

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Photos and footage available.

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