Inquiry of Namibian poachers? deaths postponed

03 Dec 2014 19:00pm

KATIMA MULILO, 03 DEC (NAMPA) ? An inquiry hearing into the death of two Namibians who were allegedly shot by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) anti-poaching unit in 2012, has been postponed to next year. The hearing was postponed to February 2015, after witnesses concluded giving their testimonies before a court at Kasane in Botswana last week Friday. The hearing was instituted in 2013 amidst calls by the Namibian government that their Botswana counterparts thoroughly investigate what led to a shoot-out between the BDF, and the now deceased persons - Richard Siyaya Mguni, 36, and Brian Nyambe, 31 - who were allegedly caught red-handed poaching at the Chobe National Park. Mguni and Nyambe, who hailed from Kavala and Ngweze settlements, were shot in an ambush by the BDF, which had suspected them of poaching after they had illegally crossed with a canoe into Chobe National Park. On Wednesday, Zambezi Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Rudolf Kanyetu, who attended the hearing in Kasane accompanied by an unidentified police officer, confirmed the inquiry was postponed. Kanyetu said this was the first time the Namibian Police Force was invited to attend the hearing in which the Botswana court will decide on whether or not to bring charges against any BDF official implicated in the death of the two Namibians. ?This is not a trial but an inquiry. The magistrate is expected to make a decision of whether to bring charges against anyone involved in the shoot-out, or not at all. The hearing was postponed but we promised to attend it next year again, and that we will continue cooperating with them on investigations or support needed in order for the matter to be finalised,? said Kanyetu. A statement issued by Botswana?s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation in 2012 read that on that fateful day, 12 July 2012, the BDF patrol section came into contact with the two men who had been spotted crossing the river illegally. According to the statement, when the two men reached the Chobe River banks opposite the Ihaha area situated on Namibian soil, they abandoned their canoe and disappeared with a rifle and knife into the park, where they later emerged with two elephant tusks. ?However, upon realisation that they have been surrounded, the two men opened fire on the members of the BDF patrol team. Under the circumstances, the BDF patrol section had no choice but to return fire,? read the statement. The statement continues that Mguni died on the spot, while Nyambe ran away in the direction of the river and could not be located. His dead body was recovered eight days later, floating along the Namibian side of the river. Also recovered from the scene where the ambush took place, was a black high intensity torch, a jacket and yellow woollen head gear. (NAMPA) FS/ND