An inquest on the shooting of three Namibians and one Zambian by Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers began before Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi in Kasane this morning.
On November 5th, 2020 BDF’s anti-poaching unit gunned down the suspected poachers on the southern channel on Sedudu Island in the Chobe National Park.
About 22 witnesses from both Botswana and Namibia are expected to give evidence during the 10-day inquest.
Four BDF soldiers and two Botswana police officers were the first to be called to the stand to narrate the events of Thursday 5th November last year.
Constable Wananani Kenosi, who is a radio operator with Botswana Police Service said she received an anonymous call at around 2000hrs alerting her of four armed men aboard two dugout canoes in the Chobe river.
The matter was escalated to Head of Intelligence Branch who informed the BDF anti poaching Unit.
When giving evidence, BDF Section Commander- Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, said he took six of his men on two speedboats and scanned the river; stealthily approaching the unsuspecting quartet.
“I shouted once. Who goes there? Halt.” said Mphela.
He said the suspected poachers did not stop, instead firing a single shot in the soldier’s general direction.
“Our soldiers returned fire as per the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) which lasted a few seconds,” he said.
The Platoon Commander further said they then approached the two canoes where two motionless body were found in one canoe, one body in the other canoe, one lying on the bank of the island.
“I called headquarters to report contact and our orders from the Task Force Commander were that we should remain at the scene until the arrival on a police investigation team,” Mphela said.
He said upon arrival of the police a 12,5kg mealie meal bag containing three elephant tusks, two long spears and canoe peddlers were found at the scene.
“There was however no gun found, and we suspect it fell in the water,” he said.
The four men were later identified as Namibian brothers Tommy Nchindo, Martin Nchindo, Wamunyima Nchindo and Zambian native Simvula Munyere.
The Namibian Parliament recently launched a parallel investigation into the matter following pressure from the Namibian Lives Matter movement.
The Parliament is determined to find whether the shooting was within the confines of the law, and whether the BDF soldiers can’t be held criminally liable.
The matter continues tomorrow with more evidence from Namibia and Botswana police and soldiers.
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