Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) has dragged Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi and his defence chief Placid Segokgo to the International Criminal Court over the killing of four fishermen in 2020, by Botswana Defence Force (BDF) members on suspicion that they were poachers.
The three brothers, Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36) and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44), were shot by the BDF on 5 November 2020 along the Chobe River.
During her inquest ruling earlier this year, Botswana regional magistrate Taboka Mopipi found the BDF had no intent to kill, but only retaliated after the slain fishermen shot at them.
Therefore, the BDF members cannot be held criminally liable for the deaths of the deceased persons, she said.
“We submit that the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court investigate the recent case of extrajudicial killing or murder involving four fishermen who were killed by BDF anti-poaching unit on 5 November 2020 in Chobe River, as a crime against humanity under the International Criminal Court statute, and ensure justice,” reads the letter seen by New Era to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan signed by CCG secretary general Edwin Samati dated 29 July this year.
Samati said while Botswana claims the deceased in the incident were armed, a joint investigation by Botswana and Namibia could not retrieve the firearm(s) carried or used by the fishermen in the area where they were shot dead.
“Botswana authorities instituted an inquest in this case to determine, inter alia, the cause of death for the four fishermen and the probability of the perpetrators to be held criminally liable, and the court found that the fishermen all died from gunshot wounds by the BDF but further ruled that the perpetrators would not be held criminally liable for the deaths,” he said.
He said the decision not to prosecute the perpetrators by Botswana court was based on a claim by the state that the injuries leading to the death of the four fishermen were incurred when BDF returned fire, a claim that was not corroborated by any evidence and which could not be corroborated by an incomplete investigation.
“Basing a decision on incomplete investigation and without relevant or convincing evidence on a serious case as this one suggests unwillingness of the state genuinely to prosecute,” said Samati in the letter.
Apart from an incomplete investigation, Samati said the post-mortem was deliberately not done impartially and or independently and the court disregarded the post mortem findings of a Namibian doctor.
Samati wants the ICC to probe Masisi as the BDF commander in chief, Segokgo as army general, lieutenant general and BDF joint task force commander for the Chobe and Ngami District, Lieutenant Kennel Samuel Okgethilwe Tselayakhumo over the killing of the four fishermen.
However, Nchindo family spokesperson George Nchindo said yesterday that although they wanted the case to be taken further, they have a problem “with the vehicle taking the case to the ICC”.
He said: “The family have not been consulted and we only saw this in a Botswana newspaper. We don’t know the motive behind it.”
Nchindo said the family had written to government to pursue the case further on their behalf but “government has gone quiet”.
The family is concerned and wants government to take the matter forward.
Cabinet secretary George Simataa’s phone went unanswered.
Caption (Caprivi concern) Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi.