Bakgatla, Sekai clash with DPP

SHARE   |   Monday, 30 January 2017   |   By Ditiro Motlhabane
Kgosi Sekai Kgosi Sekai

Lawyers representing Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela deputy chief, Kgosi Bana Sekai, will on Friday clash with those from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the Gaborone regional magistrate court over government's refusal to forgive and pardon him. Sekai's lawyers filed papers in court on Thursday showing that they will motivate an application before the regional magistrate to have the matter dismissed and their client discharged and acquitted. Attorney Nelson Ramaotwana – representing Sekai – declined to discuss the new approach for fear of being contemptuous but court records seen by The Patriot on Sunday show that the legal hawks from Kambai Attorneys will produce evidence showing that the DPP has withdrawn litigation against 32 other Bakgatla who were facing similar counts on the same charges. As part of their argument, they will also produce a letter from the victim of the alleged assault written to court as far back as 2014 indicating that he has reconciled with Sekai and is not interested in pursuing the matter in court. Alternatively, Sekai's lawyers will demand a reasonable legal explanation why their client is being treated differently from other accused persons and/or justification why court cannot grant a stay of prosecution as with the other cases emanating from the same incidents. Government has up to Thursday (February 02) to file a response. Sekai is facing several counts on the charge of "assault occasioning bodily harm", which could see him languishing in jail for no less than five years if convicted. He has resorted to court action to interdict government from continuing with trial after efforts by Bakgatla leadership to broker peace were recently spurned by the DPP. The DPP is refusing to drop charges against Sekai and Bakgatla paramount chief Kgosi Kgafela II who lives in exile in Moruleng, South Africa.

A source close to Bakgatla leadership told The Patriot on Sunday during the week that a delegation from the tribe approached the DPP for a reconciliatory meeting on January 13. The plan was to persuade the DPP to abandon the court cases against Kgafela II and Sekai since they have already settled the matter out of court and reconciled with the complainants who were key state witnesses. A similar dispensation was extended to 32 other Bakgatla leaders and members of Madibelankwe regiment facing similar charges when their cases were struck off the court register after complainants in the matters withdrew the charges. Only Kgafela II and Sekai still face prosecution for several counts on charges of assault for administering corporal punishment on some residents of Kgatleng district without any trial. "The DPP distanced themselves from the decision to continue with prosecution, saying only the magistrate hearing the matter has the powers to stop it. We are shocked at this selective prosecution," a member of Bakgatla delegation revealed. The DPP team is said to have suggested that trial continue with Sekai taking the stand because reconciliation can still be considered at a later stage. The DPP is said to have indicated that the magistrate can decide at the end of trial whether to convict or acquit the accused in consideration of the reconciliation between the parties. In the quest to nail Sekai, DPP has forced his preferred lawyer Kgosietsile Ngakaagae out of the matter, insisting that he recuse himself because he handled the case in the past while employed as state prosecutor. Government's pursuit of Sekai has raised eyebrows and speculation that the criminal case is used as a strategy to have him convicted and incarcerated for charges the victims abandoned. One of those 32 Bakgatla tribesmen pardoned by the state on assault charges was Mmusi Kgafela – younger brother to Kgosi Kgafela – who recently sent shockwaves through Kgatleng when he announced his  defection to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Kgafela's brother joins BDP
Sources in Kgatleng allege that Sekai's biggest crime is his close relationship with Kgosi Kgafela II and being sympathetic to the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). He denies ties with the opposition. Sekai's lawyer is Nelson Ramaotwana, the BNF Secretary for International Affairs. "I have never participated in politics ever since I was appointed to a public office (deputy chief). For whom I cast my vote during elections remains confidential, a right I enjoy like any other Motswana," said Sekai, tactfully avoiding the question of his relationship with the BNF. The BDP is said to be unhappy about Sekai's political affiliation, hence the reason government lawyers have been instructed to prosecute him. Upon coronation as paramount chief Kgafela appointed Sekai his deputy, before later escaping persecution by the BDP government to the neighbouring South Africa, where he lives in exile in Moruleng, North West Province. A warrant of arrest had been issued for Kgafela for failing to appear in court to answer similar assault charges as Sekai and others. Shortly before Kgafela escaped to SA, the government of Botswana had derecognised Kgafela as paramount chief of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela after he refused to attend Ntlo ya Dikgosi, saying he owes allegiance to his people and not the BDP government. He had also lost numerous court cases where he sought to challenge the Constitution of Botswana, which he publicly attacked as poorly crafted and desperately in need of an overhaul. Meanwhile sources close to the royal house in Mochudi have dismissed media reports that Kgafela II has endorsed his brother's decision to join BDP. Mmusi was welcomed to the BDP by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi at a rally in Rasesa last week amid wild celebrations. When reached for comment both Sekai and Moagi Molebatsi – a leader of Mangana regiment of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela who are holding fort in Mochudi – denied knowledge of Mmusi's new political home. They dismissed reports that the royal house supports Mmusi, insisting that the issue was never discussed at the kgotla. Molebatsi said they have more important matters to deal with to unite the Bakgatla to address the challenges they are facing in Botswana and South Africa, than to waste time on personal issues. "There is no how bogosi can meddle in politics. He never consulted us and was not compelled to do so. Bogosi has nothing to do with his personal decisions and we do not get involved in such," said Sekai.