AFTER nearly a week of silence from the Namibian government on the killing of four unarmed Namibian fishermen by Botswana soldiers, president Hage Geingob confirmed he is engaging with the neighbouring head of state, Mokgweetsi Masisi, on his country's 'shoot to kill' policy.
The president said a joint investigation by the Namibian and Botswana governments is under way into the incident that took place in the Sedudu area of the southern channel of the Chobe River on Thursday last week.
This follows Botswanan media reporting on raised diplomatic tensions between the neighbouring countries and a statement by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) claiming the slain Namibians were poachers.
The family of brothers Tommy Nchindo, Martin Nchindo, Wamunyima Nchindo and their cousin Sinvula Munyeme are adamant they were fishing along the Chobe River.
A video showing the men fishing emerged on social media yesterday.
The deceased's family on Sunday pleaded for justice for their loved ones and urged the Namibian government to help them.
They claim the army killed the men execution style.
During a meeting with the family yesterday at State House, Geingob said he spoke to Botswana's president, who also expressed his condolences to the family and agreed to the investigation.
Geingob said he has previously engaged with Botswana's former president Ian Khama on the country's 'shoot to kill' policy, asking why the army does not arrest instead of shoot suspects.
"Even if they are trained as soldiers they should use common sense in such situations," Geingob said.
The president also questioned why the deceased were fishing at night, and said they should have taken precautions knowing the situation.
Minister of international relations and cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday said the last time they engaged Botswana on their policy was on 4 May 2015, with the country's foreign minister agreeing the situation could not continue.
At the time they wanted to issue a joint statement on the matter, which did not happen.
"I was of the understanding from that meeting of 4 May that things would have changed, and we would not experience that. Both countries do not condone poaching. Now that the presidents have spoken, it may be necessary to have some understanding on diplomatic level so we can issue a joint statement of commitment on how they are going to manage," she said.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said she had a meeting with Botswana's high commissioner yesterday to relook at the 'shoot to kill' policy.
Reagan Malumo, the nephew of the deceased, says when family members went to Botswana to identify the bodies on Monday, the men appeared to have gunshot wounds to the head.
The family claims they were shot in the head at close range.
Malumo says they are not happy that the men are portrayed as armed poachers.
"If one was to say they were poachers exchanging gunshots, it is unbelievable that they were shot in the head. They didn't run, they surrendered, but they were shot in the head without being brought to court to be found guilty or innocent," he says.
"We came to seek justice and hope the Namibian government can help with a thorough investigation so that justice prevails," he says.
Another relative, Sinvula Mudabeti, also says the deceased were executed at close range and their bodies were not in a good condition.
Mudabeti says there may have been poachers in the area on that day, but the army turned on the deceased.
He says if the deceased had guns and fired at the soldiers, Botswana's government should be able to show the ammunition.
The family also claims police statements were not taken to determine whether the deceased were fishermen.
They say Botswana's government could be delaying returning the bodies to Namibia to tamper with them.
The family wants their own private doctor to conduct autopsies on the deceased.