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The Kalahari Bushmen's landmark court case against the Botswana government will reach a crucial stage at the end of August as the lawyers present their final arguments to the court.
A Bushman spokesman from First People of the Kalahari said today, We are very happy that at long last the end of our court case is in sight. While it has been going on more than twenty of the original applicants have died in the relocation camps. We hope justice will come soon before more of us die.'
The last of the evidence in the case was heard in May. The lawyers are due to present their final arguments in the week beginning 28 August, and a judgement should be made soon after that.
At least 10% of the original 243 applicants have died in government resettlement camps since the case was filed. 135 more Bushmen have asked to be added to the original list of 243 applicants this year.
The Bushmen are fighting for their right to return to their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and to hunt and gather freely. They first filed the case in April 2002, following the evictions in February that year, but it was thrown out on a technicality. The Bushmen appealed and won the right to have the case heard, and it began in July 2004 in Botswana's High Court. It has since faced long delays. The case has been the longest and most expensive in Botswana's legal history, despite being brought by the country's poorest inhabitants.
To read a summary of issues prepared by the Bushmen's legal team, click here
The court will be open to journalists and members of the public.
For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]