RUNDU, 20 APR – Kavango West Regional Governor, Sirkka Ausiku described a statement made by the Minister of Environment and Tourism regarding compensation to families of victims of crocodile and hippo attacks, as demeaning and insensitive.
Ausiku on Thursday was reacting to a news report quoting Minister Pohamba Shifeta as saying that Government will not pay compensation for people killed by crocodiles and hippos while swimming or bathing in rivers, as these could be avoided.
Ausiku said as a region, they are completely disturbed and heavily touched by the insensitivity and demeaning nature of the statement, so much so that it was necessary to respond and register the displeasure the statement has brought to the residents of Kavango West.
“It is also important to state that there is no question that most deaths caused by crocodiles happen at the river either while swimming, fetching water, fishing or crossing the river, since this has been the livelihoods of the residents of the Kavango West Region,” said Ausiku.
She continued: “For the Honourable Minister to come out and say there won’t be compensation for those killed by crocodiles and hippos because such deaths could be avoided, is farfetched, insensitive and provoking to the already angered residents who have been crying for too long for Government to intervene on human and wildlife conflicts.”
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.
Responding to the matter, MET Public Relations Officer, Romeo Muyunda in a statement on Wednesday said the minister’s statement simply implied that despite the 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 just gave examples of swimming and doing laundry in the river as risky practices that can be avoided.