The Government of Botswana and the Balete tribe’s fight over Kgale Farm has finally ended. A question on who owns the land was mediated and adjudicated by a panel of three judges: Judge Michael Mothobi, Judge Mokwadi Chris Gabanagae, and Judge Gabriel Gadzani Komboni.
The government has been pushing for the cancellation of the title deed covering a portion of Farm Forest Hill 9-KO owned and managed by the tribe, while the latter insists it is the rightful owner.
According to court documents, the dubious land in question dates back to 1925 when Balete bought a farm known as Forest Hill 9-KO for investment purposes. The tribe contributed to raising the 3,000 Sterling Pounds required to purchase the land from Aaron Siew. To this day as Balete claim the title deed is in the name of Kgosikgolo for and on behalf of the tribe. At the helm of the case against the government was Balete Paramount Chief Kgosi Mosadi Seboko.
Malete Land Board, acting on behalf of government, slapped Kgosi Mosadi Seboko and the Gamalete Development Trust with a lawsuit for the title deed of the land in question. The land board claims that upon acquiring the land, it will be turned into a commercial site. On the other hand, Balete could not allow this to happen without reimbursement, arguing that Balete already do not have enough land for residential purposes.
The Land Board’s case is that the acquisition of the contested farm was not unconstitutional because it was done with the consent of the tribe by own admission in a previous court case relating to the same issue.
According to the government, which has been trying to cease the tribe’s ownership of the farm through the Malete Land Board by cancelling its title deed, it admitted that subsequent to the introduction of the land boards, the tribe was the one that requested the State to manage its various farms.
“The land was incorporated into the Bamalete Tribal Territory at the request of the tribe and under an amendment of the Tribal Territory Act of 1973,” read part of the documents.
The government has explained that the incorporation of the property as part of the Bamalete Tribal Territory was effected with the consent and agreement of the tribe.
“Indeed it was initiated by the board which was chaired at the time by the Kgosi of the tribe”, read the documents.
Moreover, the tribe said the Board itself has historically treated the land as the tribe’s freehold property noting that even in their previous court case with the State, the Board admitted in its documents.
Senior counsel Nigel Redman represented the government while Oteng Motlhala who instructed advocates senior counsel Geoff Budlender and Mitchell De Beer represented the Balete tribe.
Meanwhile, land owners in Kgatleng petitioned President Mokgweetsi Masisi over grumbles with the Kgatleng Land Board. Disgruntled land owners also reported the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services and Kgatleng Land Board to the Police for violating the Town and Country Planning Act.
Land owners petitioned President Masisi on account that: he issued a Presidential Directive in May 2019, which was then confirmed by Ministry Permanent Secretary, Bonolo Khumotaka, in October 2019, who then issued guidelines to achieve the same. Further, in September 2020, Kgatleng Land Board issued a Moratorium on the receiving and consideration of change of use applications in Oodi Subordinate Land Board Area of jurisdiction.
They said in their petition that in September 2020, a notice was issued from the same Ministry, gazetting the whole of Kgatleng as a planning area. Permanent Secretary Khumotaka in October 2020 issued a savingram to all land board secretaries titled ‘Proposals of Development of Agricultural Land’.
Petitioners say, government moved to revoke in principle leases that reflect a change of land use on agricultural land especially where there are subdivisions that yield plot sizes lower than 1 hectare.
Land boards and planning authorities suspended all issuance of leases for change of land use and subdivision, they said in their petition. They indicated that government refused the approval of survey diagrams that pertain to change of land use and subdivision of agricultural land.
Land owners argue that “there are too many instances to quote of preferential treatment by Kgatleng Land Board, wherein they reject, revoke or they defer indefinitely applications and in the same breath approve similar or even identical applications. This practice of nepotism by the authorities of favouring one citizen over the other is unlawful and must be challenged to the fullest extent of law.”
Furthermore, land owners say these practices are a violation of Schedule 2 of Section 19(4) of the Town and Country Planning Act, and also suspends indefinitely the provisions of Section 22 of the Tribal Land Act. It is said this is a violation of the Presidential Directive and the guidelines amending the Development Control Code at Section 5(4), 6(2) and Section 8.
“The Kgatleng Land Board under the pretext that Oodi Sub Land board has no authority to preside and authorize change of land use have since suspended further land developments in Kgatleng of Agricultural land on that account.”
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.