The family of three brothers and a cousin, who were allegedly gunned down by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) on Thursday night along the Chobe River in the Zambezi region, said they are pinning their hope on the Namibian government to get answers for them.
News reports from the north-eastern region claim the four men, who were fishermen from the Impalila Island, were shot and killed by the Botswana Defence Force soldiers for no apparent reason.
They were killed between the Impalila Island and the Kasika village on the Chobe River. Namibian police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi has confirmed the incident on Saturday.
Shikwambi said authorities are working closely with their counterparts in Botswana to determine whether the victims were killed by the BDF for illegal fishing and if they are Namibian citizens.
By late yesterday, both Namibia and the Botswana governments have not released statements regarding the
incident. When contacted for comment, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah could not comment, as she was in a meeting.
Family spokesperson George Nchindo, who spoke to New Era from Impalila Island yesterday, said the family was left in shock after the killing of the four.
Nchindo narrated the family was reliably informed by a relative who claims to have witnessed the bodies of his brothers: Wamunyima (36), Martin (40) and Tommy Nchindo (48), and that of their cousin Sinvula Munyeme (44), a Zambian national, being loaded into a BDF truck on Friday morning at Kasika Island on the Chobe River.
He said the bodies are currently being held at Kasane, Botswana.
Narrating the story to this publication, Nchindo said his three brothers and cousin left the island on Wednesday for fishing along the Chobe River.
He said by Thursday 19h00, he was still in contact with them but lost contact from 22h00.
“We only came to hear of the devastating news on Friday morning from my cousin who witnessed the shooting from his fishing camp,” said the emotional Nchindo, who added that they were busy digging the graves of the four.
“BDF has killed my whole family. The village is quiet; there is no one here, and children have been left fatherless. We need answers from our government. We are pinning hope on our government,” Nchindo said.
“What we want is the Botswana government to hand over the bodies of our brothers to us so that we can bury them. We want them (Botswana) government to carry the cost of all funeral arrangements.
“Our people are being killed by the BDF, and our government and that of Botswana are quiet about this matter. People are quite; no one says anything about it. No one cares; they see nothing wrong,” he said.
Nchindo said his brother Martin is survived by his wife and four children, while Tommy is survived by his wife and five children.
Contacted for comment, Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu yesterday said he visited the bereaved family and is in close contact with the relevant authorities.
“Yes, I visited the family this afternoon. It is a sad story, indeed, and we have reported it to the relevant authorities; we are waiting to hear from them,” said the governor.
Over the past ten years, the BDF has killed over 30 Namibians and over 22 Zimbabwean nationals along the borders under their ‘shoot to kill’ policy.
A group of concerned people from the Zambezi region living in other parts of Namibia have created a WhatsApp group in hope of attracting international attention to Botswana’s reaction to foreign nationals along its northern borders.