A magistrate’s court in Kasane, Botswana is set to deliver the verdict in the killing of three Nchindo brothers and their Zambian cousin by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) tomorrow morning.
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 last year along the Chobe River.
An inquest into the killing of the four started last year November in Kasane Magistrate’s Court, where Namibian witnesses were also called to testify.
Namibian Lives Matter Movement leaders indicated yesterday that they will be in attendance.
“Depending on the outcome, we shall study the verdict and take appropriate remedies until justice is achieved,” the leaders said in a WhatsApp text message, adding they shall not rest until justice is achieved.
With no firearms being found on the Nchindo brothers and their cousin, the lack of a smoking gun to justify the use of deadly force has remained the elephant in the room at the inquest into the killings, a newspaper in that country reported in November last year.
According to the newspaper, the inquest concluded in November, with a senior Botswana police officer confirming that not only was no gun found, but the police did not find empty cartridges belonging to the BDF, or coming from a gun or guns fired by the victims either.
Testimonies throughout the inquest, however, revealed that the BDF carried out an independent search immediately after the incident and did not find any guns.
Another joint search with Namibian Police scuba divers was carried out at the scene on 19 November, which once again did not yield any firearms. The search was called off because the area was allegedly infested with hippos.
Four BDF soldiers fired a total of 32 bullets which killed the Namibian men, according to the inquest.
Botswana police assistant commissioner Kutlwano Eanya said there was no need to collect the guns used, since the soldiers already admitted they shot and killed the men. “The gun is crucial evidence, but does not affect our case,” Eanya said.
As far as Eanya was concerned, the soldiers did not plant any evidence, such as the three elephant tusks, which were allegedly found in possession of the brothers and their cousin at the time of their deaths. “I also don’t think the BDF deliberately left the elephant tusks in the water. It was also not important to send the tusks for fingerprint analysis,” he said.
Apart from the missing gun and the elephant tusks, Botswana crime scene investigator, inspector Michael Josaya presented two canoes, two spears, four pedals, two black containers, and clothes as evidence in court.
Josaya also revealed that they recovered money, national documents, passport photos, and cell phones when they searched the bodies of the deceased. However, this evidence was rejected by George Nchindo, the Nchindo brothers’ older brother.
Nchindo during the inquest maintained that the elephant tusks did not belong to his brothers. He said the family recognised the spears, paddles, containers, and canoes, but not the elephant tusks, and he did not know of a gun in their possession.
“We are also wondering where my brothers’ fishing nets are. Why have they omitted this from the evidence? because it was in the canoes,” he said.