Botswana Bushmen Win Land Dispute

Another controversy lurking around the diamond industry seems to have been settled.

In December, a Botswana high court ruled that the country’s San Bushmen could return to their ancestral homeland in the Kalahari Desert. Activist groups like Survival International had insisted that diamond mining, and De Beers in particular, were behind the evictions. De Beers denied it and even forced the Los Angeles Times to run a correction after it wrote that De Beers was exploring in the Kalahari.

Still, activists targeted De Beers, referring to stones from Botswana as conflict diamonds, pressuring super-models Iman and Lily Cole to step down as the faces of the company’s retail chain, and holding protests at De Beers store openings. A week before the court announced its decision, www.boycottdebeers.com, a mysterious Web site that lists no group affiliation, sprang up.

Following the court decision, De Beers released a statement pointing out that the court’s three judges ruled that diamonds “played no role” in the evictions.

“De Beers has always maintained that diamonds were not the reason for the relocation,” said Sheila Khama, chief executive of De Beers Botswana.

Still, activists told the African press they were taking a “wait and see” approach, and, at press time, www.boycottdebeers.com was still running.