- Says case has turned into land rights issue
- Gaborekwe’s body has been lying in a morgue since last December
The marathon court battle in which BaSarwa tribespeople are determined to bury the body of one of their own may reach the African Court of Human and People’s Rights, The Botswana Gazette has established. Pitseng Gaoberekwe died last December and his body has since been lying in a morgue as controversy between his family and the government over where to bury him raged.
This week a spokesperson of Gaoborekwe’s family, Moeti Smith, told The Botswana Gazette that although the case has reached the Court of Appeal in Botswana, they have their eyes on the continental tribunal in case they need to elevate it.
The African Court of Human and People’s Rights is an international court established by member states of the African Union (AU) to implement provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Smith added that while the initial legal battle was whether Gaoberekwe’s body should be buried inside the CKGR as his ancestral home, the case has now turned into a land rights issue, hence their consideration of the African Court.
“We want this case to reach international courts because the Botswana Government does not want to appreciate that the deceased and BaSarwa currently living in New Xade lived inside the CKGR before,” he said.
“The government claims that we cannot reside in the CKGR because we are nomadic, yet we lived there and even have cemeteries where we buried our loved ones there. We should therefore fight for our native rights as BaSarwa.”
Gaoberekwe’s body has been lying in the mortuary since December 2021 following differences between Ghanzi District Council (GDC) and the family over where to bury him.
While the family wanted to bury him inside the CKGR in accordance with his wishes and as his ancestral home, GDC opposed them, arguing that Gaoberekwe became a resident of New Xade after he relocated there and should therefore be buried in new Xade.
The family was eventually dismissed by the Gaborone High Court four months ago and subsequently took the matter to the Court of Appeal it is expected to commence in October.