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Survival Internationals interest in Ranyane case

Residents disappointed with Justice Rannowane’s ruling

International human rights organisation, Survival international has shown interest in joining minority tribal groups of Ranyane settlement in the Gantsi District in their legal battle for restoration of free services.


The Ranyane residents, mostly of the Basarwa tribe revealed during a kgotla meeting last Saturday that S.I has contacted them through a telephone soon after the Gaborone High court dismissed their case last week Wednesday and expressed its intention to help them with the appeal.


“Survival wants to join in our case and I am saying we should allow them to help us,” suggested Kaashe Gadisele, a spokesperson for Basarwa tribe in this matter. His suggestion was met with ululations from other residents.


Gadisele is a resident of Ranyane and was among the 114 applicants in the High court case which was dismissed last week. He and all other Ranyane residents have already instructed their attorney, Onalethata Kambai of Kambai Attorneys to appeal against the government. Kambai is working with Joram Matomela of Matomela Attorneys on the case.


“The matter has to be taken forward. We want to face the government and its sources again and tell the Judge of the injustices we are being subjected to,” lamented Heebe Karakubis who is the wife to the settlement’s chief.


Ranyane residents maintain that the government, through the Gantsi District Council is denying them basic needs and shares of the country’s economy as a way of forcing them out of their ancestral land. They suspect that government has hidden interest in their patch of land which is sandwiched or surrounded by big commercial farms.


“The conduct of government is suspect. Why single us out from all other settlements and deny us services! Of all areas in the country, why make Ipelegeng and water temporary services in Ranyane? They say we are in a wildlife movement area, aren’t all these farms located in the same area as Ranyane or have they built a special passage for these animals!,” chipped in another resident named Tlhogo.


Free water services and Ipelegeng were stopped in Ranyane around 2011 and 2013 when the Gantsi District Council decided to relocate the residents to other neighbouring settlements such as Bere. The contention by the Council is that Ranyane is a wildlife protected area.

The forced relocation was stopped  through a High court order, but since the bush people of Ranyane have failed to get the government to supply them with fuel for the borehole engine that waters the whole settlement which has an estimated population of more than 200 people. The 2011 population census counted about 163 people who were staying in Ranyane then.


In the meeting the residents poured cold water in last week’s judgement and insisted that their people especially Basarwa were natural environmentalists who would never interfere with animal movements if there were any at all in their area. They further contended that they knew how to take care of the bush as it fed them.


The village chief Nxere Phuti indicated that the assistance of Survival International in their case would therefore be more needed now than never before as they appeal the case against government.


The chief says their case is that of a minority group which has been suffering from abuse, oppression and discrimination by the government of the day over a number of years for no justified reasons.


“This whole issue is about discrimination. The thing is, the current President found laws already in place, the laws that were created by his father, Seretse (Sir Seretse Khama), the laws which were not discriminative and now that he is dead, nobody is following on his legacy,” Phuti put it rhetorically before adding that his people were not animals and would not allow the government to keep moving them from one place to the next as if they were creating new kraals for them.


“We are not nomads. We can no longer keep moving from one place to the other as if we have no brains of our own. We no longer live in the old days. Of course we agreed with government that we are staying in a wildlife area, but we refuse to be moved to Bere. We cannot just rise and go, leaving our ancestral land as if we were herded animals,” Phuti further stated and added that, “in the old days we lead a nomadic life because we were looking for water and we never had cemeteries like we have here. The way I see it, this country’s laws wants us to be like animals, forever wandering in the wilderness!”


At the time of going to print Kambai was yet to confirm the involment of S.I in the matter.


fbaaitse@weekendpost.co.bw

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