Government expert witness fails to justify evictions

June 3, 2005

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Testifying in the Bushman court case in Botswana yesterday, the government's expert witness in ecology and wildlife management said he felt it unnecessary to advance scientific reasons to back up the eviction of the Bushmen.

When asked whether there was any scientific reasoning behind his proposition that the Bushmen had to be relocated to protect the game reserve, witness Joseph Matlhare responded, ’It is government policy to relocate the residents, so why should I put a scientific reason?'

Matlhare was expected to testify that humans caused an ecological disturbance in the reserve. Instead, he admitted that the government had carried out no recent studies to assess to what extent the Bushmen's presence in the reserve caused an ecological disturbance, or to assess the ecological impact of moving them to resettlement camps outside the reserve.

Matlhare was Director of National Parks and Wildlife at the time that the Bushmen were relocated from their ancestral homes in 2002.