FISHERMEN SHOOTING BY BDF WITNESS ACCOUNT
An inquest into the fatal shooting of three Namibians and their Zambian cousin by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) in November 2020 is ongoing at Kasane in Botswana.
The Namibians are brothers Tommy, Wamunyima, and Martin Nchindo. The Zambian is Sinvula Munyeme.
The four were shot and killed while they were fishing in the Chobe River on 5 November 2020.
The Botswana Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) called 16 witnesses from Botswana and six from Namibia.
Two of the witnesses who testified last week are Charles Simasiku Nchindo, a brother to the three fishermen and Cacious Mwala Mwala, who last spoke to the four men.
Below, we carry the full texts of the two men's accounts. Charles was witness 23, while Mwala Mwala was witness 24.
Witness 23 - Charles Simasiku Nchindo
He received a call on 5 November 2020 at about 22h00 from Cacious Mwala Mwala that he heard gunshots coming from the direction of Kasikili Island and feared that Tommy, Martin, Ernst and Sinvula Munyeme could have been shot because their phones went unanswered and later were off.
On 6 November 2020, he got Matengu's number, who had remained at the fishing camp of Tommy Nchindo asking him about his brothers, to which Matengu replied that they never came back.
Matengu relayed that he loaded two fishing nets, two spears, two knives, an empty black container and an empty crate carrier.
He drove to Impalila to find out about his missing brothers. While passing Kasika, he saw some cars in Botswana, and he took a Binocular and saw BDF soldiers. Next to these BDF soldiers was a blue cloth or sheet.
He saw some objects on the cloth but could not tell clearly.
On 8 November 2020, he got a call from a NAMPOL officer based at Impalila Island requesting two family members of the Nchindo Family to go to Botswana and identify bodies that BDF shot.
On 9 November 2020, he arrived with Cassius Mwala and two Namibian Police Officers at the Kasane mortuary. The mortuary attendant pulled out the four bodies from one of the cold compartments and put them on the floor on a tray.
He went on to identify the first body, which was that of his young brother Martin Nchindo. Martin's eyes were closed. His mouth was swollen and had sand on his head.
The next body was that of Ernst Nchindo, whose eyes were swollen, his mouth was swollen too, as well as his face.
The third body was that of Sinvula Munyeme, whose face and mouth were swollen. His eyes were closed.
The last body was that of Tommy Nchindo, whose mouth was wide open, eyes wide open too. Had a fresh scar or bruised below his left eye. He had sand on his nose and mouth. His face was swollen.
He then requested the Botswana officer in charge to allow him to inspect the entire bodies of his brothers and cousin, to which he was told that in Botswana, they don't do such things, and no reason was given to him.
The Namibian Police Crime Scene Investigator, Mr Patrick Mafwila, wanted to take pictures of the bodies but was prohibited by the Botswana Police.
After this painful process, they asked him and fellow family members who accompanied him to give statements at the Kasane Police station. He was in so much pain to see his young brothers lying dead with signs of assault.
On 10 November 2020, he was called by Deputy Commissioner Evans Simasiku that they needed to go to Francistown for the post mortem.
On 11 November 2020, they left Katima for Kasane en route to Francistown. They took their Covid tests and travelled to Francistown the next day.
On 12 November 2020, he was asked by the Botswana Pathologist to hand over the bodies by way of confirming that the bodies were those of his brothers and cousin for the performance of the postmortem. He declined to do so because the Namibian Pathologist was not around. After the Namibian Dr arrived then, he handed (symbolically) the bodies for the autopsy.
He and his fellow family member who had accompanied him waited outside from morning until 17h00 without being offered any food for the entire day.
They were then taken to the undertakers to identify caskets that would carry the bodies, and they did this task without fail.
Early morning on the next day, 13 November 2020, they left Francistown for Kasane and proceeded to Ngoma, where family, friends and sympathizers had gathered to receive the bodies.
He was surprised that they waited for the bodies at Ngoma border post for a very long time without any reason given. He was surprised to see that the bodies arrived in coffins instead of the caskets shown in Francistown. When he arrived at home that day, that's when family members informed him that his stepmom, who was the biological mother of Tommy, Martin and Ernst Nchindo, had died due to a suspected heart attack. This news broke his heart further and shattered him.
In closing his testimony, he said he buried four people at once, three young brothers and his stepmother, which left their village almost empty.
What shocked him the most was that he once visited Tommy and found BDF soldiers buying fish from his brother on the Namibian side of the border. He could not believe how BDF could kill his brother, who was so well known by the BDF themselves as fishermen.
He ended by saying he trusts in the living God who will ultimately bring justice as the Bible says, 'what happens in the dead of night, although hidden, will come out to light.
Cacious Mwala Mwala
On 5 November 2020, while at his fishing camp with three others, he spoke with Tommy Nchindo on the phone and was told that Tommy would pass by to get some cigarettes but wanted to cast the net one more time.
While he was on the phone call with Tommy Nchindo, he motioned in the direction where Tommy was using his torch phone, asking Tommy if he could see the light, and Tommy said he could see it.
After a few hours, he heard a sound of a boat on the northern Channel of the Chobe River. After a few minutes, he heard people arguing in Setswana and Subia. He thought this could be Tommy and his brothers arguing with BDF.
If there were any problems between Tommy and the BDF that night, they could be resolved quickly. While inside my makeshift dwelling, he heard automatic gunshots and ran outside to check the issue. While standing outside, he looked in the direction where the gunshots came from and saw two flickering lights.
He called his friend who was inside the makeshift dwelling to come and see what he was seeing.
He showed him the two lights that would come closer and again apart. He started receiving calls from people finding out what was going on concerning the gunshots, which they also heard.
When they checked where Tommy had left for the fishing trip, they found signs of their footprints. They then went to Pangolin. When they arrived there, they heard four single gunshots.
They used a torch to motion where the gunshots were heard and the two flickering lights were seen.
After some time, they heard the sound of items that appeared to be loaded in a boat. They then listened to the sound of moving boats leaving the area where the lights were flickering.
On 6 November 2020, they used a telescope mounted on my rifle to check the area where the BDF were seen standing. They saw a white flag adjacent to Kasikili Island on the Botswana side. He then called the NAMPOL officer, who came with the NDF naval Commander of Impalila. He asked Kudakwasha to check with his Binocular, and he saw people standing around objects on a blue sheet.
They also saw a BDF truck and a Land cruiser that left the scene.
After the news came that the Police needed family members of the missing Nchindo brothers to travel to Kasane to identify the bodies of Namibians killed by BDF, he went with Ba Charles Nchindo and ba Ray Shamwanga.
At Kasane, he saw the faces of Ernst, Martin and Sinvula with bruises on their faces. Tommy had scratches on his face. The thought of seeing these brothers motionless and their bodies in a condition that showed how BDF killed them was heartbreaking.
He was shattered to see Martin, Tommy, Ernst and Sinvula Munyeme in their condition, showing signs of assault and execution.