Bahurutshe of Manyana have taken decision to take government to court over its decision to deny their paramount chief Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele with a leopard skin. Addressing the tribe on Thursday morning their attorney Joram Matomela informed the half packed kgotla that they have decided to file the case with the courts of law after the Attorney General informed them early this year that Kgosi Mosielele cannot be draped with a leopard skin because he is within Bangwaketse territory and holding fort for Kgosi Malope.
Matomela said they have sought advice from AG whether it was right for Bahurutshe to be denied to practice their traditions of installing a paramount chief and after they received the communication they have decided to sought the relieve of the courts. “We are all Batswana and there is nowhere in the Constitution which denies any morafe to practice their culture. As such we want the courts to solve this issue,” he said, adding that the matter will be filed by next month.
Matomela said they tried to seek political intervention from the responsible minister to no avail, “now we are left with only one option to sought legal recourse.”
Emotionally charged Bahurutshe of Manyana morafe expressed concern how Bangwaketse have been treating them, especially when dealing with the issue of their chieftainship. A visibly emotional old woman in her late 70s nearly broke into tears saying that they don’t know what good will ever come from them. “It is very painful how we have lived under the oppression of Bangwaketse belittling us and even now we are one of the oldest villages in Botswana but we are forced to seek services from Kanye, why?,” she asked rhetorically as tears rolled down her cheeks.
She said Kgosi Mosielele’s father was draped with a leopard skin and the late Kgosi Bathoen didn’t have any problem with that but now wonders what really went wrong. “Our rights as morafe have been trampled on willy nilly. When we were sent to Kanye to inform them about our intention to drape our kgosi with a leopard skin they insulted us and called us makgalagatsana! We will fight this discrimination until the end,” said a visibly shaking old man.
Another speaker questioned why they should continue singing the national anthem saying this land is their heritage when their culture is being undermined and their rights not respected by the same government they voted for. “As Bahurutshe we will uphold the constitution of this country which treats everyone as equals but will never allow anyone to mistreat us,” he said angrily.
Last year when Bahurutshe informed Kgosi Malope II of Bangwaketse of their desire to drape their kgosi with leopard skin during his installation they turned down the request. This did not stop Bahurutshe to drape their chief with leopard as they continued with the ceremony with Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete saying it is Kgosi Mosielele’s birth right. “I am confident to reveal that the late Mosielele had instructed that only after his death that is when Kebinatshwene can be draped with a leopard skin something that we are all here today to witness,” she said.
This was also supported by Kgosi Maruje II of Masunga who also stressed that drapping of the leopard skin is not confined to certain merafe. “I believe that today the constitution has changed to what transpired in this village. When we talk about democracy, all tribes should not be denied the right to exercise their tradition and what they believe in or what their culture dictates,” he said.
They reasoned that they cannot have two chiefs in the same territory been drapped with a leopard skin with Bakhurutshe arguing that it happened in 1952 when Kgosi Mareko Mosielele was installed. Arguing on the issue of the territory, Matomela informed morafe that tribal boundaries no longer exist as the land is now being administered by the land boards not chiefs as it was before independence.