Witness exposes government

May 23, 2005

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Cross-examination of a key witness in the court battle between the Kalahari Bushmen and the Botswana government has exposed the government's given reasons for the evictions as false.

Jan Broekhuis, Assistant Director in charge of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, admitted in court that he ignored a 2001 Bushman proposal to maintain their water supply at zero cost to the government. He said it was government policy not to provide water inside the reserve. Yet the government has claimed it evicted the Bushmen because providing water was ’too expensive'.

Under cross-examination Broekhuis also admitted that the figures he had produced indicating a decline in wildlife numbers in the reserve were unreliable. The government has claimed that that the presence of Bushmen in the reserve negatively affects wild animals, despite several independent studies showing that wildlife numbers have doubled in the last ten years.

The government also claims that it evicted the Bushmen from their land in order to bring them ’development.' But Bushman lawyers drew Broekhuis's attention to a report, presented to government in 1999, showing that Bushmen evicted to New Xade resettlement camp in 1997 were facing hunger due to poor hunting grounds and insufficient rations, and that alcoholism was rife. Only eighteen months after the report was submitted, the government evicted several hundred more Bushmen to New Xade.

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ’While the Botswana government struggles to justify the shambles of its ’relocation policy', the condition of the evicted Bushmen gets worse by the day. The government is rapidly losing what little credibility it had left. It must end its oppression and let the Bushmen go home. This will save both the Bushmen and the country's standing on the world stage.'

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