Sesana, five Basarwa give gov’t an ultimatum
• They want govt to allow their auctioned livestock back into CKGR
• Gov’t confiscated and auctioned over 95 goats and a horse
• National Parks director says he wants know how many goats, donkeys they want to bring back to the CKGR
Basarwa activist Roy Sesana and five fellow tribesmen whose 95 goats, a horse and donkey were confiscated and sold on auction by the state in 2010 have yet again, following a court victory on the case, given the government a taxing ultimatum demanding a special dispensation for them to buy and take back their livestock into the Central Kalahair Game Reserve (CKGR).
The Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act strongly prohibits the introduction of livestock into national parks unless with the permission of the director.
The state had confiscated the livestock on allegations that the five Basarwa were seen driving their livestock into the CKGR. The livestock inclusive of Sesana’s fifteen goats was subsequently auctioned by the state and the proceeds deposited into the national treasury.
The aggrieved Basarwa applied to the courts and the state was ordered to reimburse them by Justice Abednego Tafa. Sesana and company have now launched a fresh war inspired by Tafa’s ruling saying the state which evicted their livestock from the park must now allow them to reinvest the reimbursement money in livestock.
A special dispensation will have to be arranged for Basarwa by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) to enable them to bring back livestock into the park, as it currently illegal to do so. Should the state decline Basarwa’s demands, it is likely to face another suit inspired by the Tafa’s judgement which may absolve Basarwa of any wrong doing.
The Director of DWNP, Major General Otisistwe Tiroyamodimo in a recent letter Sesana and co. requested that he be given the number of Donkeys and Goats that they want to take to Molapo Settlements, saying “this will assist in our decision making.”
Meanwhile another tribesman, Kealotswe Motsoketso rejected the horse from the state questioning its condition and further demanding a new one. It had a broken leg. To this, Tiroyamodimo acknowledged that “Mr Motsoketso does not accept the horse in its current condition. We therefore make an offer to transport him to Lone Tree to choose a replacement horse from a pool that we are keeping there.”
It is not yet clear whether the state will allow all the livestock into the park but Sesana in a brief interview with this publication on Sunday said the state must undo what they did. “Gare itse gore ba ne ba itumeletseng. Mme sone seo ase bowe se baitumedisa gape ba busetse thware kaha tase ga legonyana. Gare kope sepe se sesha. (We do not know what motivated them to act like that. We are not asking for anything new from the state but rather simply requesting that they undo what they did),” said Sesana.
Asked about whether they have already bought the livestock, he answered in the affirmative. “They have, I am the only one who is still considering what to buy but I will do so in due course,” he responded.
The other parties are Xamme Gaotlhobogwe, Dube Ngwanaosele, Kanyo Kaingotla, Sister Gaotlhobogwe and Kealotswe Motsoketso, all residents of Molapo, a settlement within CKGR.
In the judgment in which they are depending on, it is revealed that officials of the DWNP auctioned all the goats in March or June 2010 but said the horse was killed by dogs.
Government in court papers denied that the livestock was removed without Basarwa’s consent, further saying that numerous meetings and consultations were held between them and Gantsi district authorities prior to the removal of the livestock from the CKGR. The government said following the refusal of the complainants to comply with government instructions, the livestock was forcefully removed by DWNP.
However, wildlife officials also denied ever taking Sesana’s goats and that of the other two, but committed to compensate some of the applicants.
The judgment shows that in his evidence, Sesana said that wildlife officers took 15 of his goats and that he was absent as he was in police custody in Gantsi when they were taken out of the park.
Sesana told the court that he had owned these goats prior to the removal of all residents of New Xade by the government. Other applicants also said that their goats had always been in the park since the High Court ruled that residents of Molapo could keep their livestock there.
Giving evidence, Regional Wildlife Officer, Dimakatso Nshebe said he was informed by other officers that the goats had been brought into the game reserve and that only 49 goats, and later a donkey and a horse were confiscated. The judge rejected the evidence saying it is inadmissible hearsay.
The wildlife officers, however, admitted that when they took the goats they did not know the owners, a remark which the judge said brings into question his assertion that no goats belonging to the applicants were taken.
The judge found that the lack of documentation by the state is troublesome and said Basarwa did not seem to have connived to falsely implicate the government officials although it was clear that relations between the officials and Basarwa had been strained over the years.
He said that he was satisfied that Basarwa had proven their claim and that all the goats that were removed by the DWNP were later auctioned and the proceeds deposited in the national treasury.
“There was no order from a competent authority for such proceeds to be forfeited to the state,” Tafa said.
He ordered the government to compensate Basarwa valuing a goat at P800 and a donkey at P1,500. The money is to be accompanied by a 10% interest per annum from the date of summons to date of payment. The state was further ordered to pay the costs of the suit. Patrick Matlho represented Basarwa while the Attorney General represented the state.