Royal aunts petition against Kgafela

SHARE   |   Monday, 16 January 2017   |   By Ditiro Motlhabane
Royal aunts petition against Kgafela

Exiled Bakgatla paramount chief Kgosikgolo Kgafela II's never-ending troubles in South Africa took a new turn on Thursday when a group of women from the royal family protested against his interference in the chieftainship crisis of their tribe. The protest comes just days before Kgafela returns to Rustenburg Civic Centre tomorrow (Monday) for the continuation of a hearing of oral evidence by The Commission on Bakgatla Chieftainship led by retired Judge Maluleka. The Commission, which started work in July 2016, was appointed by the North West Premier to receive evidence in the dispute as part of an investigation of the protracted chieftainship tussle between Kgafela and a faction led by his deposed uncle Nyalala Pilane. Kgafela's supporters have dismissed the protesting group as a bunch of sellouts, who allow themselves to be used as pawns by Nyalala, an uncle-turned-foe who has launched a spirited attempt to block Kgafela from ascending to the throne in Moruleng. Moagi Molebatsi, a leader of Mangana regiment of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, who are holding fort in Mochudi, told The Patriot on Sunday that the protest is a continuation of numerous attempts by people paid by Nyalala to discredit Kgafela.

Hired crowd?

"That Nyalala group is always there. They always appear at the Commission waving placards and wearing T-shirts written "Greedy Kgafela Must Go Back to Botswana". We have engaged some of them and they saw reason and abandoned the group," he said. Molebatsi said it is laughable that the protesters could claim to be leaders of the tribe when it is unheard of in Sekgatla culture for women to lead a tribe in the presence of their male siblings. Although he admitted that the women are descendants of Kgosing and are related to the chieftainship, he dismissed their claim that they are leaders of the tribe.  "Those women cannot claim to represent the leadership of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribe. They are used as pawns by Nyalala who pays them monthly salaries to disrupt the Kgafela administration and create chaos. They even have an office at Bakgatla tribal administration centre. They are a crowd for hire, but we are not bothered," said Molebatsi. Ahead of appearance at the Commission tomorrow Molebatsi said they will convene a kgotla meeting in Mochudi on Saturday (yesterday) to discuss developments in the tribe including the recent reconciliation between Kgafela and his paternal uncles. Further, they will discuss logistics for a trip on Friday (January 20) to Mamone near Pietersburg where they have been invited by Bapedi tribe for the commemoration Mampuru Day.  "On our way back, we will convene another meeting at Lekgotla la Bakgatla in Kgabutle, Lesetlheng in Moruleng," he said. Lesetlheng is the new base in Moruleng where Kgafela installed Rampho Pheto as Kgosi of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela late last year, despite an interdiction obtained by Nyalala from the Mafikeng High court. Nyalala was in the past appointed to lead the Bakgatla tribe in South Africa holding fort for their paramount chiefs domiciled in Botswana. Now Nyalala and a section of the tribe are opposing Kgafela's takeover and have dedicated immense resources to dethrone and have him deported back to Botswana, despite that the latter obtained a South African citizenship in November 2012. The aunts, who protested on Thursday, are said to belong to this group.

Protest strategic

Molebatsi said the timing of the petition was strategically calculated to happen just days ahead of the Commission hearings.  SA's Daily Sun newspaper reports that the women call themselves aunts from the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela royal family from Moruleng, near Rustenburg where Kgafela has sought refuge after escaping arrest by state security agents in May 2012.  A Gaborone magistrate had issued a warrant for his arrest after failing to appear before court to answer assault charges as a result of unlawful floggings in Kgatleng by Madibelankwe regiment.  The Daily Sun further reports that in the petition to the office of the North West Premier in Mafikeng, the women accused Kgafela of sowing divisions and destabilising their chieftaincy in South Africa. Former South African ambassador Ntshadi Pilane-Ntshoele, who led the protest, blamed Kgafela for frustrating efforts to find peaceful solutions to their conflict. She and others accused the North West Provincial government and other authorities in South Africa for supporting Kgafela. The group also accused Premier Supra Mahumapelo of a negative attitude towards the royal family during engagements. They criticised his intention to appoint an administrator to run the affairs of the tribe and appointing a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the rightful heir to the throne. They said the appointment of an administrator will pre-empt the findings of the ongoing commission. Since his arrival in Moruleng in May 2012 Kgafela has had running battles with Nyalala and his group. There is widespread speculation that the major cause of conflicts in the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela chieftainship is gaining access to immense wealth and investment owned by the tribe. The tribe’s investment is estimated at worth over R20 billion with assets and interests in mining, agriculture and other business ventures. At some point Kgafela was accused of trying to divert R23 million from tribal coffers to build himself a palace worthy of a King. Additional reporting by The Daily Sun