BNF to picket COA ahead of CKGR Burial Court Ruling

Urges members and other citizens to come in large numbers


The Botswana National Front is encouraging its members and other citizens to attend proceedings in large numbers when the Court of Appeal (COA) delivers its ruling on the late Pitseng Gaoberekwe burial case this week, the Publicity Secretary of the BNF, Justin Hunyepa has said.

“We are mobilising citizens to stand with BaSarwa,” Hunyepa told The Botswana Gazette in an interview. “Even on Labour Day, we lobbied the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions and the Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to help protect and defend BaSarwa. People are being buried everywhere where they want. Some are buried in their homes, kraals and farms.”

Lecturer in Public Administration and Politics at the University of Botswana, Mokaloba Mokaloba, said the issue of Gaoberekwe’s burial inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) or should not be made political.

However, now that the matter is before the courts, the question is whether the law is against the cultural ethics and rights of BaSarwa. “It is more about finding an amicable solution to the problem and allowing for the old man to be buried inside the CKGR,” Mokaloba said.

Gaoberekwe was born and raised at the CKGR but moved out of the park towards the end of his life in order to be close to his children and health amenities. When he passed away last December, authorities would not allow his body back into the park to be buried. His family has been fighting since for the right to bury their father in the CKGR as his birthplace and in accordance with his dying wishes.

Gaoberekwe’s burial case may have reignited long standing tensions between BaSarwa and the government. In 2006, they were involved in a legal tussle with the government and won after they argued that they were illegally removed from their ancestral land within the CKGR.

International human rights group, especially Survival International, had contended that the manner in which BaSarwa were removed from the park violated international human rights norms.