Orapa Game Park open for Bakhwe’s rituals
Members of the Bakhwe tribe residing in Letlhakane are free to visit the burial sites of family members within the Orapa Game Park for ritual cleansing and other traditional activities.
This was revealed by the Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtsha Mines (OLDM) Assistant General Manager, Ditiro Lentswe in a recent communiqué with Botswana Khwendom Council (BKC).
Following his meeting with BKC on 13th April, where a number of issues were raised, including the demand to have access to historic burial sites within the Game Reserve, Lentswe confirmed that nothing stops Bakhwe from visiting the old graves.
“Bakhwe whose family members are buried within the Orapa Game Park have been granted permanent permits to allow them access into the park whenever they wish,” responded Lentswe to a letter from BKC.
He further stressed that all they need to do is contact the ‘Orapa Today Boteti Tomorrow’ team to assist with logistics.
Access to ancestral land for marginalised tribes like the Bakhwe, who lost their land to pave way for mines such as Orapa, has been a hot potato for many years.
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The Botswana government had one of the longest running cases against the Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), which came to an end in 2006. In a landmark court case, Basarwa won the right to live in the CKGR. Despite this, govt continue to trade blows with hunter/gatherers.
In another recent dispute that reignited this running battle, the state barred a family from burying their father inside the CKGR.
Pitseng Gaoberekwe, who spent most of his life in the reserve, was denied his dying wish, with court ordering he be laid to rest elsewhere
His family refused and the old man’s body remains at the mortuary, where it has lain since his death in December 2021.
The court ruling attracted the wrath of advocacy groups such as Survival International, who viewed it as renewed persecution of and discrimination against Basarwa by government.