Government lawyers breach High Court rules

May 25, 2005

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The evidence of the Assistant Director of Wildlife, Jan Broekhuis, concluded yesterday after nine gruelling days in the witness box. His evidence was characterised by repeated claims not to remember important events in the time leading up to the relocations, coupled with frequent assertions that he had not read relevant documents concerning the reserve or could not remember their contents.

At the conclusion of his evidence, government lawyer Sidney Pilane attempted to introduce the next witness, Joseph Matlhare, who since 2000 has been the Director of Wildlife and National Parks. He is expected to give evidence about government policy in relation to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and to testify on 'conflict' in the reserve.

Before Pilane could begin to examine him, lawyers for the Bushmen moved to block the Director appearing as an expert witness. They pointed out that government lawyers had failed to advise his team in advance of what expert opinions he would be presenting, thus breaching the High Court Rules. Three weeks ago, the government lawyers completely changed the order of the thirty witnesses they propose to bring, putting Bushmen lawyers at a severe disadvantage in preparing cross-examination.

The judges are due to rule on the matter this morning.