Torture of Bushmen - shocking details

October 31, 2007

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Shocking new details have emerged of the torture and beating of a group of Bushmen in Kaudwane resettlement camp, Botswana. Fifteen men were arrested in late September for hunting, and at least ten of them were tortured.

The incidents bring the total number of Bushmen arrested for hunting this year to 53. During this time the government has not issued them with a single permit to hunt on their land, despite Botswana’s High Court ruling in December that its refusal to issue permits was unlawful.

Police and wildlife guards took three of the men, Vitanon Mogwe, Mphato Mothoiwa and Nabedao Mamou, into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and made them run through the desert for several hours in high temperatures, following them in vehicles. They beat the three with sticks, kicked them, jumped on them and tightened car inner tubes around the necks of Vitanon and Mphato.

Another group of three were made to run through the desert in a separate incident. Other Bushmen were beaten with sticks, threatened, punched, slapped, held without food or water, and had handcuffs tightened around their wrists until they were forced to confess to hunting.

One of the wildlife guards told Mphato Mothoiwa, ‘If you don’t tell us the truth that you killed an eland we will do to you what we did to Selelo.’ Bushman Selelo Tshiamo died in 2005 a few weeks after he was beaten and tortured by wildlife scouts.

The Bushmen won a landmark legal victory in December when the Botswana High Court ruled that the government had illegally evicted them from their land in 2002.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Botswana’s police and wildlife guards have tortured or beaten at least 63 Bushmen for hunting over the past three years, and they’ve arrested 53 this year alone. Their policy couldn’t be clearer – to terrorise the Bushmen so that they’re too afraid to go home. It’s a policy that is both brutal, and doomed to failure.’

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