RUNDU, 19Apr – A statement made by the Minister of Environment and Tourism that families of people who are killed by crocodiles and hippos while swimming and bathing in rivers will not get any compensation, has angered the All People’s Party in the Kavango East Region.
Speaking to Nampa in an interview on Wednesday, acting Secretary General of the APP in the region, Vincent Kanyetu condemned Pohamba Shifeta’s statement made during the official launch of the Maurus Nekaro Conservancy last weekend.
“We will not pay N.dollars 100 000 for people killed by crocodiles and hippos while swimming or bathing in rivers, because that situation can be avoided,” Shifeta was quoted as saying by Nampa.
According to the ministry’s revised Human-Wildlife Conflict Policy, families of people killed by wild animals will receive N.dollars 100 000 as compensation for such deaths.
During the event, the minister appealed to parents as well as traditional and community leaders to warn children against swimming and bathing in rivers as this puts their lives at risk of being attacked by crocodiles and hippos.
Kanyetu said the statement was callous against the people of the Kavango and Zambezi regions.
“Swimming is a culture in these parts. The river to us is a multipurpose resource and is not just used for swimming. People who go and bath or swim do not know that there is a predator out waiting to attack,” he lashed out.
Kanyetu questioned whether the wildlife should also be killed when it has attacked a human being.
He called on the ministry to refrain from making such statements and rather consult the regions on the matter as opposed to simply taking decisions in Windhoek they think would work for the people in the regions.
Responding to the matter, MET Public Relations Officer, Romeo Muyunda said the story has created some misconceptions in the public that the ministry wishes to clarify.
The minister’s statement, he said, does not imply that anyone killed by hippos or crocodiles will not be paid the amount, but rather to caution the public that, even though there is such a provision, there are requirements for this amount to be paid.
One of the requirements is that the ministry must conduct investigations when such incidences occur to ascertain that there was no negligence.
Human wildlife conflict has become more frequent, Muyunda stated, adding that the ministry is trying to put measures in place to mitigate it.
He said Shifeta gave examples of swimming and doing laundry in the river as risky practices that can be avoided.
“We are fully aware that people who live next to the river depend on the river and other water resources for survival. However, we encourage caution and due diligence by our people when utilising these resources.”
The ministry further wished to clarify that it “does not compensate for human life losses or any other damages to property by wild animals as it is continuously reported in the press”.
“According to our policy, we offset the losses, which means that we provide assistance for farmers and communities to start somewhere in replacing damages. Human life can never be valued and there is no amount of money that can compensate it,” Muyunda said.