The Botswana police forces are once again harassing the San in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), despite the fact that they have the legal right to live there. The San societies in the CKGR include the peaceful G/wi.
Survival International reported last week that the Botswana police established a permanent camp close to the village of Metsiamenong, where they are arresting and intimidating the inhabitants. The dispute seems to be about hunting game animals. Police, paramilitary forces, and soldiers are in the CKGR, and so far they have arrested five people after they found evidence of meat in their homes. The San have the right to hunt inside the reserve, but the government hassles them by illegally refusing to issue hunting permits.
After many years of struggles, the San in 2006 won the right from the Botswana High Court to leave their resettlement camps, to which they had been forcibly moved, and return to their old homes in the CKGR. As a result of its loss in that court, the government sought to prevent the people from having any access to water. It closed previously usable bore holes and refused permission for people to drill new ones. Metsiamenong was in the news over that issue when one woman died as a result of the lack of water.
The San overcame that obstacle in 2011 when they prevailed in a law suit that forced the government to allow them to drill new wells for water. It appears as if the government may be trying still another strategy for keeping the people away from their traditional homelands.
One San person living in the CKGR told Survival, “since the arrests, the lives of the Bushman have changed significantly. The government has sent in armed forces to intimidate us, making our lives very difficult. We depend on the natural resources of the CKGR for our food. How are we expected to survive if we cannot hunt?” The individual might have mentioned that they have been sustainably hunting and gathering foods in the Kalahari for millennia, long before other peoples arrived and began trying to dominate them.
Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival, said, “we are extremely concerned by reports that Botswana’s security forces have set up a camp close to Metsiamenong. This is a clear attempt to intimidate and undermine the human rights the Bushmen battled to save. It will not succeed.”