Kgosi Kgafela II's tribulations in South Africa – where he is fighting to entrench himself as Bakgatla paramount chief – continued this week when he suffered a double blow with the faction challenging his legitimacy successfully blocking two major events in his Moruleng diary.
Nyalala blocks Kgafela
Kgafela's detractors led by his arch-rival Nyalala Pilane scored a major victory on Thursday, when they obtained a court order interdicting the installation of Kgosi Pheto scheduled for yesterday (Saturday) in Lesetlheng section, Moruleng. The Nyalala camp had filed an urgent application with the Mafikeng High Court to stop the installation. The applicants in the matter are recorded as Kgosi Nyalala Molefe John Pilane, Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela Traditional Council and Royal Family of Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela Traditional Community (Moruleng). The respondents are Kgafela, David Mpule Pheto, Judge Maluleke and the Premier of North West Province. The urgent application was heard on Thursday with Mahikeng High Court judge Justice Djaje ruling in favour of Nyalala camp. She ordered that "(Kgafela, Pheto) and all those who support them are hereby interdicted from proceeding with a ceremony which may result and/ or turn-out to be an installation/enthronement of Pheto as an Acting Kgosi of the Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela traditional community or as holding any traditional leadership position of Bakgatla on Saturday 24 September 2016 at Lesetlheng section, Moruleng".
At the start of the week, on Monday, the Nyalala camp forced the suspension of hearing oral evidence on Bakgatla chieftainship saga at the Rustenburg civic centre where the Commission was to continue business. According to eye witnesses, the anti-Kgafela group attended the hearing suited in regalia and carrying placards bearing words which dismiss Kgafela as an outsider in Moruleng. "The group against Kgafela's chieftainship demanded that proceedings be postponed until the warring parties meet for 'pre-trial hearings' to canvass issues which are not disputed by either camp. The Commission oral hearings were adjourned for that reason," said a source, who attended the Monday session. Advocate Sidney Pilane represented Kgafela while Nyalala camp’s legal team is led by Senior Counsel Lebala. A leader of Mangana regiment, Moagi Molebatsi, also confirmed the developments in South Africa late Thursday but said they will continue with proceedings at Lesetlheng on Saturday regardless of the opposition.
"We attended the commission hearing in Rustenburg on Monday. We are back home to support our fellow tribesmen and mobilise Bakgatla to attend the Saturday events in Moruleng in large numbers. September is our culture month, which will culminate in a Heritage Day on Saturday," said Molebatsi. Although he expressed concern about the justice system in South Africa, after Kgafela lost a number of cases before the high court in Mafikeng, Molebatsi remains confident that they will triumph in the end. He said they have grown accustomed to being challenged by Nyalala "who is abusing funds belonging to the tribe to launch petty fights against kgosikgolo". He said notwithstanding the interdict, they will open the Lesetlheng kgotla and celebrate Heritage day as planned. Bakgatla regiments and choirs embarked on a pilgrimage to Moruleng for the festivities after attending court in Gaborone.
State refuses to drop charges
While Kgafela is battling it out in the North West Province of South Africa, his subjects in Mochudi- among them his uncle Kgosi Bana Sekai and some members of Madibelankwe regiment-were arraigned by Botswana government before a Gaborone Magistrate on Friday facing assault charges. Magistrate Lentlhabetse Willie granted the state application to have attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae removed from representing Sekai because he was previously involved in the matter as a state prosecutor. Sekai expressed disappointment at the decision, saying the details of his case vary from those which Ngakaagae handled, which in any case never went to trial because it has been withdrawn. "For six years now I have been on trial yet the person who claimed that I assaulted him withdrew his statement in September 2014 and told the prosecutors he is no longer interested in pursuing the matter. We were given an opportunity to reconcile, which we did, but it would appear state prosecutors are pursuing another motive. They object to the withdrawal of the matter claiming that we took long to reconcile. This is surprising as there was no timeframe set for negotiations," said a clearly exasperated Sekai in the company of his wife.
Kgosi Sekai targeted?
Although there have been reports of ongoing negotiations between government and Bakgatla to reconcile, Sekai said the conduct of prosecutors does not show any willingness to broker peace. Sekai said he is shocked that state prosecutors refuse to withdraw his case, despite his co-accused cases have been withdrawn including that of Mmusi Kgafela, Kgafela II's younger brother on similar grounds as his. Sekai is facing assault charges after he administered corporal punishment on one Phillip Mogorosi Rankoa (46). He will appear in court again on October 17. "There are no negotiations. Otherwise how do we explain this? Maybe I am targeted for destruction," he said. Sekai also gave the example of a letter addressed to him by former minister of local government Peter Siele in 2013 in which the minister 'gazetted' and 'barred' Sekai after relieving him of all his bogosi duties. Attempts to get a clarification on the letter have been ignored by government officials. These developments, according to Sekai, fly in the face of what the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane recently told Bakgatla at their main kgotla.
Tsogwane had in April apologised to Bakgatla and presented concessions with the tribe to diffuse the tension against government. He pleaded with Bakgatla to work with government officials to find an amicable solution to the protracted stand-off caused by government's decision to de-recognise Kgafela and Sekai as a paramount chief and deputy, respectively. He said government has lifted the de-recognition and the two could return to their positions as soon as they had resolved outstanding legal disputes with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Last week Molebatsi revealed that negotiations have been ongoing with the DPP and other government representatives.