Doris Pilkington’s Bushmen Appeal

Doris Pilkington Garimara, the Aboriginal author of ‘Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence’, speaks about the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, drawing parallels with her own experience of being taken from her land.

In 2002, the Bushmen took the government to court. Due to procedural wrangling, evidence did not start to be heard until 2004.

On 13 December 2006, they won an historic victory. Describing their eviction by the government as ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’, the judges ruled that the tribe has the right to live inside the reserve, on their ancestral land.

However, the fight was not over. The government refused to allow boreholes capped shut during the 2002 eviction to be recommissioned. With no source of water, Bushmen had to survive off scant rainwater and make arduous journeys to fetch water from outside the reserve.

It was back to court for the Bushmen.

In 2010 they challenged the government again, in a bid to access water inside the reserve.

The case was dismissed, but on 27 January 2011 Botswana’s Court of Appeal overturned the decision, condemning the government’s ‘degrading treatment’ of the Bushmen.

Tribes: the Bushmen