Namibia: Safety of Namibians Living Along Chobe River in Spotlight

21 September 2021

THE National Council's standing committee on home affairs, security, constitutional and Legal Affairs has commenced with public meetings with community members along the Chobe and Kwando rivers in the Zambezi region.

The two-week-long community and traditional authority engagements aim to assess the security situation affecting communities in the involved areas.

There has been a huge uproar among Zambezi residents after the killing of the Nchindo brothers Tommy, Martin and Wamunyima, and their cousin Sinvula Munyeme by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) on 5 November last year on suspicion of being part of a poaching syndicate.

Those living along the Chobe and Kwando rivers have spoken out, saying they have been harassed constantly since independence at the hands of the BDF.

The situation was exacerbated by the signing of the 2018 border treaty between Namibia and Botswana, residents say, as they believe they have lost their grazing land to Botswana.

As a result a motion has been tabled in the parliament to task the committee to assess security conditions on the ground.

The committee is chaired by John Likando, with Andreas Uutoni as deputy chairperson, along with Philemon Ndjambula, Daniel Kuuoko and Elkan Hainghumbi.

Likando, during a courtesy call to Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu, said the committee will be focusing on three key issues, including the border security along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwando rivers, and specifically the unfair treatment of the residents at the hands of the BDF.

He said how the situation has affected the livelihoods of people would also be investigated.

"These rivers are also a source of transport, especially during flood seasons. However, the people are no longer moving around freely like they used to, because they fear for their lives. The tourism sector is also affected as intimidation now extends to tourists," Likando said.

"We will interrogate the locals on these pressing issues to ensure the affected communities return to their way of living," he said.

All the regional councillors, as well as Sampofu will be absent from the aforementioned public meetings, as they have other commitments to attend to outside the region.

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