KATIMA MULILO - Despite the 2022 ruling by the Kasane Magistrate’s Court in Botswana in favour of that country’s defence force, Kongola councillor Bennety Busihu questioned Namibia’s stance to seek fair justice in the killing of the local fishermen.
The Kasane court last year absolved the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) from gross negligence and liability for criminal litigation in the brutal killing of three Nchindo brothers and their Zambian cousin in 2020.
The three brothers, Tommy (48), Martin (40), Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44), were shot by the BDF on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.
Busihu demanded feedback on the issue from Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu during his State of the Region address last week.
“I didn’t get anything on the Nchindo family. I didn’t get any feedback during the 2022 and 2023 Sora. I don’t know what is the stance of our government now in terms of an exit strategy. I know there was a court ruling in Kasane, whereby we lost the case. I feel we really need to proceed with the process of Mandamus to have a fair trial,” Busihu added.
Sampofu said a Namibian delegation attended the inquest in Kasane from 15-26 November 2021.
“The magistrate said the BDF was not wrong to kill those people because they were doing their duties. After that, we came and wrote a report recommending that Namibia should find a middle country so that the decision is reviewed. We are still waiting for that. For those who want to see the report, it is still in my office,” he updated Busihu.
When the inquest into the killing of the four started, Namibian witnesses were also called to testify.
The 2020 fateful shooting saw President Hage Geingob meeting the Nchindo family at Impalila Island in the Zambezi region.
He was accompanied by Sampofu, Chief Kisco Liswani III of the Masubia, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, home affairs minister Albert Kawana, Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa, and environment deputy minister Heather Sibungo.
In an unrelated matter, the unsolved issue of Dukwi refugees getting national documents also resurfaced during the 2023 Sora.
Since 2019, more than 850 former Dukwi refugees, who were deported after a ruling by the Botswana Court of Appeal nullified their refugee status, have returned home.
Linyanti councillor Vistor Kabunga put it to Sampofu that some of the Dukwi refugees are struggling to acquire national documents, despite having been repatriated voluntarily as per the request of both governments.
“People who came from Botswana are still facing challenges when it comes to acquiring national documents up to date from home affairs. When they go there, they are told to go back to Botswana and acquire other documents. I think you are aware of this issue, honourable governor, and you should make a follow-up on this,” Kabunga proposed.
This comes after Botswana took a decision to finally enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living at Dukwi, which was invoked in 2015. This directive by Botswana’s Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security came after the country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, visited Windhoek in 2018 and said Namibian refugees at Dukwi, Botswana were no longer regarded as refugees by his government, but as illegal immigrants.
Sampofu acknowledged that there are challenges with these refugees when it comes to getting Namibian documents.
“We are discussing this issue at a political level. We are planning to meet the minister of home affairs so that people can get their documents. People should be given their documents the way the Hereros who came from Botswana were given their documents,” he reasoned.
Over the years, some of the group members have vowed that they will only return home if the Namibian government accepts them as members of the United Democratic Party, along with their Denmark-based leader Mishake Muyongo and former Mafwe Chief Boniface Mamili.