President Hage Geingob and his Botswana counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi have both called for a speedy investigation into the fatal shooting of three Namibians and their Zambian cousin by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) last week Thursday.
Earlier this week during a meeting with members of the grieving family at State House, Geingob announced that a joint investigation between the two countries has been instituted into the shooting.
“President Geingob also charged the ministers of international relations, safety and security and defence to ensure that the investigation is carried out in the shortest possible time and that the claims by members of the family are attended to in the most transparent manner,” Presidency spokesperson Alfredo Hengari said in a statement yesterday.
The BDF this week confirmed the killing of brothers Wamunyima (36), Martin (40) and Tommy Nchindo (48), as well as cousin Sinvula Munyeme (44), claiming the four were killed after they were suspected to be poachers.
The assertion has been dismissed by family members, claiming the four fishermen, who were unarmed, were killed “execution style”.
The 69-year-old mother of the three brothers Nkungano Nchindo collapsed and died on Tuesday from a suspected heart attack, linked to her grieving over the loss of the four men.
According to Hengari, Geingob also informed Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to consider favourably the request by the family for assistance with the burial of their loved ones.
“Government will accompany the bereaved family, and the family should be allowed to mourn without unwarranted politicisation of the incident during this difficult period,” Hengari said.
“Lives that have been lost should not be instrumentalised for political gain. Government institutions for their part should be allowed to carry out investigations, without the distraction of politicised petitions and demonstrations.”
Hengari was referring to the planned demonstrations against the killing at Katima Mulilo and outside the Botswana High Commission in Windhoek today.
He branded the demonstrations “pointless”, as Geingob and Masisi were already seized with the matter.
“The 13 November 2020 planned demonstrations against the Botswana Defence Force on Namibian soil and petition to the head of state by individuals following the fatal shooting of 5 November 2020 are pointless and wholly misplaced,” he said.
Hengari claimed that when the government and the President, in particular, are attending to matters in an urgent manner, “blatantly politicised demonstrations can become an unwelcome distraction”.
However, political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah disagreed with the assertion, saying Hengari’s comment was both strange and contradictory.
“It is within the demonstrators’ democratic rights to stage a demonstration no matter whether the President or government is already engaged with the issue,” he said.
In fact, he said, the planned demonstration will provide moral support to the President and the government’s efforts in their engagement with the Botswana government in the sense that citizens are adding their voices to the process. “There is no contradiction between the planned demonstration and the President’s efforts. Just two approaches of the same coin to show the gravity and urgency of the matter,” Kamwanyah said.
“To the world out there, there is nothing wrong for the President’s press secretary to issue a press statement attributed to himself. But at a deeper analytical level, it shows a pattern how the President’s press office is being weaponized against free speech.”
Meanwhile, Masisi yesterday appealed to the people of both countries to remain calm while investigations are in progress.
He said he has been in direct contact with Geingob and that they have both expressed their full commitment to resolve the issue in an expeditious and amicable manner.
“To this effect, and in the spirit of good neighbourliness, the two governments have agreed to undertake a joint investigation with the view to determine and address the circumstances that resulted in the incident,” Masisi said. – email@example.com