Gaborone - Botswana's longest-running court case in which its San Bushmen are fighting for rights to ancestral land will hear final submissions next month as the trial nears completion, lawyers said on Tuesday.
State lawyer Dittah Molodi said after written submissions in the case in which the Bushmen were suing Gaborone over rights to live in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), "final oral submissions before the court are expected to start on August 28," he told AFP.
The judges will then decide whether the Bushmen can return to the large wildlife sanctuary they have called home for the past 20 000 years.
Miriam Ross, a spokesperson for the London-based Survival International, which has waged a 30-year campaign in support of the Bushmen, confirmed that it would hand its final written submission to the Botswana High Court by Friday.
"Our lawyers will go back to court next month but we have not been informed of the exact date yet," she told AFP.
Making headlines as far away as London and New York, the emotive land claim issue resumed earlier this year after a five-month break called by the Bushmen's lawyers to raise funds.
A group of 200 Bushmen filed an urgent application in April 2002 challenging their eviction from the game reserve, but the case was thrown out on a technicality.
Survival International maintains they were driven out of the Kalahari to make way for diamond mining, a claim the government has denied.
The government has maintained that it resettled the Bushmen in villages where it could provide them with water and social amenities.
But the plight of the Bushmen has nevertheless blemished Botswana's international reputation as a model for democracy and tolerance in Africa.
Once numbering millions, roughly 100 000 San are left in southern Africa, with almost half of them - 4 000 - in Botswana.