Has Botswana Ever Suffered a Terrorist Attack?

Dr. Jeff Ramsay clarifies from a historical perspective.
Has Botswana Ever Suffered a Terrorist Attack?
Paying respect for lives lostSource: Dr. Jeff Ramsay
A

Yes. On June 14,1985 South African Defence Force Troops (SADF) under the order of General Constand Viljoen, launched a night-time attack on what it claimed were ANC houses throughout Gaborone. At the time anti-apartheid groups including the African National Congress (ANC) used Botswana as a place of refuge.

12 people, including many who had no ANC connections, were killed in the attack. The South Africans’ key targets were members of the MEDU Art Ensemble, an Umkhonto we Sizwe front that was then infamous for its supply of resistance art for the United Democratic Front inside South Africa. The raiders killed two of its members — MK artist Thamsanqa (“Thami”) Mnyele and ANC member MEDU treasurer (and UB student) Mike Hamlyn—and they destroyed the house of ANC’s and MEDU head Tim Williams, who had moved out recently.

The SADF had readied around 50 tanks, helicopters, and jet fighters in Zeerust for use if Botswana retaliated.

On 17 June 1985, the Government of Botswana sent a letter to the President of the United Nations (UN) Security Council asking for help to deal with the raid, which was followed up by a presentation by Botswana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gaositwe Chiepe.

Resolution 568 was drafted on 21 June 1985 ordering South Africa to pay Botswana for damages, reaffirming Botswana responsibility to house refugees, while encouraged other countries to help Botswana and condemn South Africa.

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