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Councillors urge govt to timely assist victims families

19 Sep 2023

North West District councillors have supported a motion calling for government to timely release part of the ex-gratia compensation money aimed at assisting bereaved families of victims of human-wildlife conflict to give their loved ones a decent burial.

The councillors were concerned that some bereaved families experienced hiccups in preparations of funerals and ended up incurring unnecessary debts.

In the event of death, government assists the family of the deceased with a total amount of P70 000 to cover funeral costs and loss of income from the deceased.

However, the mover of the motion, Councillor Luke Motlaleselelo of Bojanala requested the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to revert to the old system of disbursing P20 000 from the P70 000 ex-gratia compensation to the bereaved family for funeral arrangements and pay the remainder thereafter.

He argued that initially, the ministry used to release part of the money, but the arrangement had been changed as the money was now claimed before the high court as per the Inheritance Act.

Since these changes, he said many families experienced delays in receiving the money because of long processes resulting in some receiving the ex-gratia compensation weeks after the funeral.

In some instances, Mr Motlaleselelo said some families would have incurred debts because they wanted to give their beloved one a decent and dignified burial.

“It is painful as some families are economically disadvantaged and struggle to give a decent burial for their loved one while some dragged the burial date hoping that the money would be released,” he added.

Furthermore, he said there were some families who had suffered for more than two years awaiting ex-gratia compensation, adding that the delay had created sorrow that seemed too great to bear considering that it was a sudden death.

He cited an incident at Ditshiping village where the deceased was killed by an elephant around July and the money was released only this month while the situation was rescued by Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust (OKMCT) for the family to bury the deceased.

Families of the victims, he said were traumatised by the sudden death and at the same time felt rejected by government system and believed that P20 000 could lift the burden.

Another incident, he said happened in Boro village where the family of the deceased ended up creating debts and when the money was released, the person set to inherit took it and disappeared without paying.

Councillor Kenson Kgaga of Senonnori/Boro concurred that families of the victims were overburdened and wished the ministry could listen to their plea. 

He said issues of human-wildlife conflict had worsened poverty amongst some families as many depended on government assistance.

The communities, he said traditionally depended on arable production and livestock rearing, but now they had become destitute because wild animals scared them out of their ploughing fields and farms.

However, regional acting wildlife coordinator, Ms Pelotshweu Galebotswe said they had experienced complaints from members of the community concerning the delay to release the ex-gratia compensation. 

She said to avoid inconvenience, the ministry had allowed them to pay the bereaved families over the counter.

She said recently they managed to assist some families at Nxamasere, who were paid at the revenue office well on time.

Meanwhile, the house also passed another motion requesting Tawana Land Board to expedite confirmation and allocation of residential plots for Sexaxa residents who occupied them before the settlement was incorporated into Maun. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Esther Mmolai

Location : MAUN

Event : Full council meeting

Date : 19 Sep 2023