Shifeta regrets toddler shooting in Bwabwata

28 Mar 2017 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 28 MAR (NAMPA) – Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET), Pohamba Shifeta on Tuesday expressed regret about the shooting incident in the Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi and Kavango East regions about two weeks ago.
A toddler girl was shot in the head by members of the Anti-Poaching Unit on 15 March when her father drove away soon after officers asked to search their vehicle.
“It is unfortunate that this incident had happened and it is not our wish to see and experience incidents of this nature in our national parks and anywhere in the country,” said Shifeta at a media briefing in Windhoek.
Shifeta said the Keil family from Windhoek entered the Buffalo Core Area of the park on 12 March, and MET officials explained the rules and regulations of the park to them.
He said the family was also made aware of the presence of members of the Namibian Police Force and the Namibian Defence Force as well the reasons why the forces were in the park.
Shifeta said the family of four returned to the park on 15 March and the normal procedures of the park were explained to them again. On that day, uniformed members of the Anti-Poaching Unit that used a government vehicle stopped the family, introduced themselves and asked to search the vehicle.
“It was at that time that Mr. Keil then just drove without adhering to the request to search the vehicle. The anti-poaching patrol team then fired warning shots but the vehicle would not stop,” he said.
The driver proceeded, forcing officers to shoot the right back wheel, but still the vehicle failed to stop and officers followed the vehicle.
“I am not trying to apportion blame on the driver here as police investigations into the matter continue.”
Asked about the condition of the toddler who was hospitalised in a Windhoek private hospital after she was airlifted with her mother on the day of the incident, the minister said she has been discharged.
The minister urged members of the public to support law enforcement officers deployed in national parks by assisting them with information to fight poaching.