28 Jun 2015 10:10am
KATIMA MULILO, 28 JUN (NAMPA) Four temporary fishing camps, believed to belong to Namibians, along the Linyanti River, were raided and gutted by fire, allegedly by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
The BDF, on Saturday morning, allegedly pounced on the Namibian fishermen and women living at the camps in close proximity to each other, claiming all their reed structure houses were built on foreign soil, and that they were conducting illegal fishing activities.
During the raid, clothes, identification cards, passports, fishing permits, food stuff, beds, cooking utensils, including large blocks of salt for fish, were all burnt inside the houses of the fishermen and women near the Mawunga village in the Linyanti Constituency.
According to information availed to Nampa by victims, an unknown number of Namibians ran and hid in the reeds, while many others were allegedly rounded up during the raid which started at 07h00.
Of those allegedly arrested, two are women with two children under the age of six.
When we saw two BDF helicopters flying over the camp, we suspected trouble was coming our way, so we all started running in different directions, while others were preparing to jump into canoes.
However, the BDF soldiers moved in on us so fast and started questioning us on why we set up house on their soil, said victim Mulonga Muluti.
He told Nampa that that none of those who set up camp at the sites, which each had more than 10 houses, were found with fresh or dry fish, as most of them arrived at the area on Thursday and Friday evening.
I was in the canoe with two women and about to row away with our hands, when one BDF soldier pointed a gun at us and demanded we jump out. I refused and dove into the river and managed to swim across to safety.
From the shore, I could see the soldiers burning the huts down, while other soldiers were chopping our canoes into pieces. I do not understand the reason why we were attacked as we set up camps on the Namibian side of the river and did not have any fish on us, said Muluti.
Another victim, Precious Muyoba, narrated she was left with only the clothes she was wearing, and that her husband, Eustace Kasale, phoned to inform her that he is in the custody of BDF at the Kachikau Police Station in Botswana, along with two Namibian women.
At the scene, a handful of aggrieved fishermen and women were chanting and shouting profanities towards the BDF.
Namibian Special Field Force (SFF) soldiers summoned to the area by Zambezi Regional Police Commander Boniface Mukendwa, could not cross the river as they were not equipped with boats, enough human power and no GPRS to show the two countries boundary lines.
SFF Warrant Officer, German Johannes, told this agency that they could only observe the helicopter activities and fire smoke emitting into the sky from the sites pointed out to them as those belonging to Namibians.
We could not cross and approach the BDF as we did not have the tools needed to show us whether indeed the local fishermens houses were set on Namibian or foreign ground.
We choose to play it safe out of fear of starting a gun fire with the BDF soldiers, who are usually trigger happy to shoot foreigners. At the point where we stood, we could all see the helicopter landing and taking off, and could also hear chopping sounds, said Johannes.
He could not confirm if any Namibians were arrested or injured, and referred all queries to Mukendwa.
GPRS, which stands for general packet radio service, is a commonly used wireless data service. It utilises Internet networks to communicate information.