Botswana Denies Border Harassment

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Botswana Commission in Namibia has strongly denied allegations that its officials constantly harass Namibians along the Namibia/Angola borders, specifically at Ngoma in the eastern Caprivi Region. Through a recent press release the Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia Norman Moleboge said that at no given time did alleged incidents of harassment and shooting take place. This was evident, Moleboge said, after he recently visited the border of Dobe, Mohembo, Ngoma and Kwando from June 28 2006 to July 3, 2006 to get an update on cross-border issues between the two countries. Furthermore, both Namibia and Botswana have been conducting ongoing Working Committees around those areas to address any such issues. These committees comprise immigration, police, military and veterinary officers. Just recently from the 24th to the 26th of last month the 16th Session of the Botswana/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security was held to address security matters along the two countries’ bordering boundaries. However, it was noted with satisfaction that there are “low levels of cross-border crimes” between the neighbouring countries and security agents have been praised for a job well done. However, it turns out to be true that occasionally citizens of both countries are sometimes found on the wrong side of the borderline, especially at undesignated points of entry. “These unfortunate cases are a result of individuals crossing the common border at ungazzetted points of entry to visit their relatives on either side of the border. Some farmers along that common border also find themselves on the wrong side searching for their stray livestock,” reads the statement. While crime along the border areas is something the law enforcement agents are trying to do away with, the issue of livestock smuggling across the common border still remains a problem. “These criminals are sometimes found without proper travelling documents and in possession of stolen goods,” states the latest document from the Botswana mission. However, any person found without these travelling documents are said to be breaking the Botswana laws. “Botswana security agents have the authority to stop, question and detain individuals found in Botswana illegally within the laws governing national security.” In the same vein, the Botswana High Commission emphasised that no fishing is allowed in the Chobe River on the Botswana side. This is because of the Chobe National Park in that country, which is regarded as a sanctuary and anyone who is caught fishing there will be stopped, questioned and likely face prosecution. Since there have been incidents of poaching in the Ngoma area, security agents who patrol the wildlife sanctuaries are sometimes armed to enable them to handle poachers who are in most cases heavily armed. However, the high commission denies any reports of shooting incidents involving innocent people as has been alleged previously. People from both sides of the border are therefore being encouraged to avoid crossing the border illegally especially at undesignated points of entry. Queries about the alleged disappearance of the beacons at Ngoma border should be reported to the relevant authorities for further investigation.

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