SWAKOPMUND – Botswana defence minister Kagiso Mmusi says his country will never refuse to repatriate any Namibians who were killed in the past along the mutual borders they share with Namibia.
Mmusi was responding to questions shortly after the conclusion of the 29th Namibia-Botswana Joint Commission on Defence meeting that ended in Swakopmund.
Media reports suggested that several Namibians were killed in the past along the common border, but some of the remains have not been repatriated to Namibia.
Namibians living along the border have been irked by the Botswana Defence Force’s (BDF) apparent shoot-to-kill policy.
Earlier media reports allege that 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF at Impalila Island along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwando rivers.
However, Mmusi on Friday said his country is not objecting to the repatriation of any Namibian killed along the border.
“Yes, I believe that it’s something that can be done. We need to investigate and identify such remains so that the remains can be released to the families. We will never refuse to do that”, he said during a press conference.
He added that the two countries share more than just the borders, such as families who reside in both countries.
“That is why we have meetings such as these to discuss the challenges our people living along the borders experience. However, the border lines must be adhered to by both countries. If there are any challenges, our police and defence forces who manage these territorial areas will meet and discuss such challenges,” he emphasised.
Mmusi said issues of national security and defence are significantly intertwined and interconnected, to such an extent that one nation cannot realistically and independently consider its own security concerns without taking into account those of other states, particularly nations that share borders and history such as the two countries.
Meanwhile, Namibian defence minister Frans Kapofi stated that Namibians claiming that their families were killed along the border with Botswana and were never repatriated should avail the names of such individuals.
“That will make the investigations easier. It’s not enough to make allegations without any names. In fact, it will be good to make those names available”, he reiterated.
Botswana last year repatriated the remains of three brothers, Tommy, Martin and Wamunyima Nchindo, and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme, who were shot by the BDF on 5 November 2020 on suspicion that they were part of a poaching syndicate.
The incident resulted in the death of the grieving mother Alphonsina Nkungano Mubu (69) of the three brothers, four days later.