Exiled Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgosi Kgafela II Kgafela's rule over the tribe in neighbouring South Africa was entrenched last week when North West Province Premier, Professor Tebogo Job Mokgoro announced Ramono Pilane Linchwe as the appointed regent of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela.
Ramono replaces Nyalala Molefe John Pilane after a protracted chieftainship battle, which even reached South African courts. Ramono is Kgafela II's uncle, who accompanied him on the ritual leopard hunt ahead of his installation as Bakgatla King in Mochudi in 2008. Kgafela's entrenchment in SA affirms that Bakgatla in Mochudi and Moruleng are one people, and is important to restore the heritage and unity the tribe has enjoyed over 200 years. Kgosi Kgafela II, the first son of Kgosi Linchwe II, was installed in 2008 after his father's death in 2007.
A notice dated July 6, 2020 by Premier Mokgoro stated that the issue of certificate of recognition to Linchwe is valid for six months. He added that the appointment follows the withdrawal of certificate of recognition as Kgosi of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in terms of section 14(3) of the North West traditional leadership and Governance Act 2005 that was issued to Kgosi John Nyalala Pilane.
“In line with the designation dated June 11th 2020 that was made by the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela royal family in terms of section 14 (2) of the North West Traditional Leadership and Governance Act, 2005, and duly informed by the royal family, a certificate of recognition as interim Kgosi of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in terms of section 14(4) of the North West Traditional Leadership and Governance Act, 2005, is issued to Rangwane Ramono Pilane, valid for six months from the date of publication of this notice,” notice states.
An elated Bakgatla deputy Chief Kgosi Bana Sekai, told The Patriot on Sunday that they are happy that the chieftainship issue in Moruleng has finally been resolved, allowing them to install the rightful heir to strategic positions to lead the tribe. He, however, said the development does not come as a surprise to them.
"It is true that our partenal uncle (Nyalala Pilane) has been removed from the post of regent. Ramono has been apointed to replace him. Kana re le morafe wa Bakgatla ra a itlhaloganya. We know the genealogy of our chiefs. The truth finally came out after an extensive investigation and presentation of evidence before the Maluleka Commission," said Kgosi Sekai, reiterating that Bakgatla are very happy.
He decried that Kgafela II had to struggle to regain control after his uncle decided to harass him, a situation he describes as very unfortunate.
Late last year, Kgafela II scored a major victory in Rustenburg when the Judge Maluleka led Commission on the Traditional Leadership Dispute in Respect of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Community found in his favour and recommended that he be installed as the leader of the tribe in South Africa.
Kgafela II's partenal uncle, one Nyalala Pilane -who had been holding fort in Moruleng, tried to dethrone him and ursup the seat as the substantive leader of Bakgatla in South Africa. Nyalala had in an attempt to discredit Kgafela II, soon after the latter settled in Moruleng after escaping incarceration in Botswana, launched numerous court battles wherein he claimed that the chief was a fugitive and an illegal immigrant. When all else failed, the South African government set up the Maluleka Commission of Inquiry, which conducted public hearings on the matter at the Rustenburg Convention Centre in the Northwest Province, to settle the matter.
Supported by hordes of followers from the tribe, Kgafela II put up a spirited battle for the restoration of his chieftainship and triumphed. Based on the outcome and recommendations of the Maluleka Commission, North West Premier, Professor Job Mokgoro accepted in August 2019 and asserted the power of Kgosikgolo Kgafela II as the supreme leader of Bakgatla both in Botswana and South Africa.
Confirming that Kgafela II is resident fulltime in Moruleng, Kgosi Sekai said the Bakgatla tribe in waiting patiently for Botswana government to drop the criminal charges against their paramount chief to allow him to travel across the border freely. "The matter is still pending, and once resolved our Kgosikgolo will be free to travel to Botswana. (Go mo maruding a puso go rarabolla kgang yeo). It is upon government to resolve the issue and we remain hopefully," said Sekai, a chuckled in his voice betraying the discomfort of delving into such sensitive issues.
Kgafela II's troubles in Botswana
Soon after installation, Kgafela II infuriated the Khama administration by refusing to submit to authority, claiming autonomy even rejecting request for meetings to be held by public officers in Kgatleng. He was later arraigned before court on numerous assault charges on residents of Kgatleng after regiments, acting on instructions from Kgafela II, ran amok and took the law into their own hands.
The assault charges were the last straw that broke the camel's back, a culmination of a standoff between Kgafela II and the Khama administration. Below we reproduce verbatim, a letter from Kgafela II to the then Kgatleng district Commissioner, Wame Samapipi, she instructed headmen to organise Bakgatla to attend meetings to be addressed by the then ministers Lebonaamang Mokalake and Peter Siele on development issues.
"I would like to remind you madam, that you were present at Mmathubudukwane on the celebration of Vision 2016 on September 3, 2011.
You heard for yourself, an agreement reached in public between us and Rre Merafhe the Vice President, that Bakgatla and government will talk to resolve the present impasse. Subsequent to the meeting at Mmathubudukwane, arrangements have been made for a meeting to take place between Bogosi and Rre Merafhe.
My understanding of your saving gram is that the two ministers, and perhaps the rest of them in cabinet, insist on imposing themselves upon our kgotlas and our community despite the circumstances narrated above concerning the commitments made by us and Rre Merafhe at Mmathubudukwane, and further circumstances narrated here below concerning the events that led to the Mmathubudukwane public commitments.
Before narrating these further circumstances and their implications, I would like to sound this reasonable point of reference for any healthy human relations. I repeat what I said in Mmathubudukwane that we need peace and harmony in our society so that we may be happy people.
There cannot be peace and happiness if people do not respect each other. Your government, especially minister Mokalake and various other cabinet ministers, clearly do not have respect for other people and their cultures, and that is the reason why there is no peace, even amongst their institutions. None of us in Kgatleng have gone to the home land of either Mokalake, or Siele, or to their new found home in Gaborone, to provoke their people or impose ourselves on them. Keep this in mind all the time as our conflict unfolds because it falls squarely on the dividing line which Merafhe spoke about.
On June 7, 2011, Kgosi Bana Linchwe wrote a letter to the office of the President advising, and requesting quite reasonably, that government should speak to Bakgatla at their Kgotla in Mochudi, to explain, amongst others, how government desires to relate to us as a tribe. A copy of such letter is attached to an affidavit which was recently filed in court, pursuant to the prosecution case against Bakgatla Dikgosi by government. Such letter is thus the subject of Court proceedings. The affidavit is attached for your own record, so that you may fully acquaint yourself with what is going on. The letter is marked "DD".
Kgosi Bana Linchwe has told Siele verbally that he is not welcome in our Kgotlas until such time as government shall have spoken to us as requested in our letter of June 7. Mokalake on the other hand is a disrespectful man.
We have not had the opportunity to explain this very important and reasonable consideration to him because of his nature of disrespect. The rest of cabinet knows this stand point.
Your ministers (Siele and Mokalake) are acting very unwisely in seeking to impose themselves onto our Kgotlas and our community at a critical time when we are challenging the very basis of their authority, and when we are complaining, and asserting as a fact, that the blue print of their rule as government is disrespect for other people and disrespectful to indigenous cultures which include the customary ways of their own forefathers.
You must remind these ministers that these kgotlas are ours. They do not belong to government. The people they wish to speak to are our children, family and relatives who collectively form our community. To Insist on speaking to them in our Kgotlas against our will, and in the face of a glaring necessity to dialogue before any such kgotla meetings may be held, seems disingenuous. It amounts to subterfuge at its height, considering that your vice-president has publicly given an impression that government wants to talk.
Presently, there is a leadership vacuum in Kgatleng in as far as your government structures are concerned. Mokalake has suspended Kgosi Bana Linchwe and Kgosi Segale from office without consulting or informing me. How then does he really expect our juniors, Dikgosi at Oodi and Dikwididi to call and assemble the tribe without directions from Kgosi Sekai or Kgosi Sagale?
How really does he expect the other dikgosana of Kgatleng to execute their functions to government in the absence of their leaders and really how does he expect his staff to relate with each other in this vacuum?
Mokalake is duty bound (according to the foreign laws of your government) to have addressed the staff of Tribal Administration in Mochudi about this vacuum. This duty is a matter of pure common sense in human relations. I mentioned this in my speech at Mmathubudukwane. He has not done so, He does not pay attention to important issues of local government and this will be the subject of his evidence in court.
I would like to ask you madam, on the basis of what is recorded above to tell these two ministers and any other member of cabinet who wishes to hold meetings in Kgatleng this:
*Their actions are Inimical to efforts of peace which can only be achieved through dialogue. They claim to represent the people of Botswana, yet they are afraid to enter into any intelligent dialogue with the people. Their fear to stand before the people and deal with the truth confirms my point in the constitutional challenge I have mounted.
* Their actions have the potential to bring about enormous grief upon themselves, not necessarily through violence,' but through uncivilised dialogue with and by the community they provoke, as they are given to provocation and disrespect.
* Their insistence on holding these meetings display the very disrespect we have highlighted and shall be drumming in the trial of the Constitution throughout.
* The existing tension between government and Bakgatla, and now other tribal communities and various interest groups, Is fertile ground for serious instability. The insistence by cabinet to adopt the line of conduct complained of here and before, has potential to disrupt the little peace we have. As such we shall be considering making an interlocutory application to the High Court, on the basis of these facts, to seek a temporary interdict against this behavior of cabinet, pending the final resolution of the constitutional challenge. Mokalake and Siele may very well go ahead to provide me with the additional facts I require for purposes of the interdict.
By copy hereof, the dikgosana of the villages concerned are hereby instructed by their Kgosikgolo not to assemble the community for these disrespectful ministers. I have written letters to all dikgosana of Kgatleng instructing them not to assemble the tribe at our kgotla for these disrespectful individuals from other tribes. In addition, one of the royal uncles will attend at this proposed meeting to ask the tribe, politely, to disperse and to have a little conversation with the ministers.
You must remind these ministers madam, that this letter, together with our letters attached to the Affidavit will form an important ingredient of the constitutional trial, as well as all actions by government henceforth.
Remind them also that where we presently stand in law, the only power they think they have is the corrupt power to give us charge sheets and call us for Court mention and to ridicule us in their private and public media. but we have gone through all that so far. And of course, we cannot forget their corrupt power to kill and conceal their deeds through their colonial Courts. We are afraid of none of this in our pursuit of the truth:
In conclusion, the legal implication of this letter compels me to forward a copy to the DPP and the Attorney Generals office. They are accordingly placed on notice of the potential interdict application. As a decent and honest woman I believe you to be, I would like you to tell these men at cabinet to stop being cowards, and be man enough to face other men in public to discuss matters of truth, justice and peace for the future happiness of all.
We are waiting for them to come and talk peace and the future with us either here at our kgotla as we have been requesting for the past 24 months, or at the High Court through the Constitutional trial. It is their choice what they will opt for. One thing for sure which you must make them understand is that they cannot exercise any legal authority over me or anyone until such time as the High Court shall have determined the validity of the Botswana constitution. Any corrupt exercise of this questionable authority will be met by one interdict application after another pending proceedings for us to seek protection pending finalisation of proceedings.
A copy of the affidavit has been delivered upon the president under covering letter that requests his evidence in Court in the constitutional challenge, as well as to various potential subpoena witnesses such as the commissioner of police, members of parliament and registrar of the High Court. I think it is important that you know this in your capacity as the face of government in the Kgatleng District".