Witness makes mockery of government argument

Government witness Joseph Matlhare has made a mockery of the argument that the Bushmen were evicted because provision of services in their reserve was ’too expensive'.

The former Director of Wildlife claimed that issuing hunting licences to Bushmen constituted a 'service'. The Department of Wildlife terminated supplies of water and other services to Bushmen in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002, and stopped issuing them with hunting licences.

When asked yesterday in court what costs were saved by not allowing Bushmen to hunt, government witness Joseph Matlhare could name only the costs of paper incurred in printing their hunting licences and the costs of the yearly trip to the reserve to deliver the licences.

Bushmen living in the reserve were reliant on hunting to feed their families. Their hunting licences were withdrawn in 2002, and they were forced into bleak relocation camps where they are dependent on government handouts.

The Botswana government has also frequently claimed that people living in the reserve were consulted about the withdrawal of services to the reserve. However, Matlhare was forced to admit under cross-examination that the decision to withdraw services had already been made before the Bushmen were informed of it.