Botswana cops arrest Bushmen

2007-02-13 18:27

Johannesburg - Six Bushmen were held for days and refused food after officials accused them of hunting in a Botswana game reserve despite a December court ruling allowing them to do so, said Survival International (SI) on Tuesday.

SI spokesperson Miriam Ross said: "Six Bushmen have been arrested, starved and held for six days after police and wildlife guards accused them of hunting in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana."

"They were then released without charge."

SI assists tribal people around the world.

Ross said the men were refused food for four days and were threatened at gunpoint by police.

"One of the men and his wife were beaten up after refusing to let wildlife scouts and police search their home without a warrant."

In December, the Botswana High Court ruled that the government's refusal to issue Bushmen with hunting licences for the reserve was unlawful, and that the Bushmen had the right to remain on their ancestral land.

"It's time for Botswana's government to take control of its police and wildlife guards and stop them abusing the Bushmen," said SI director Stephen Corry.

"We welcome the release of these men without charge, but if this mistreatment doesn't stop, Botswana's reputation is bound to take another nosedive."