As the skeletons continue to tumble out of the Mogoditshane Sub Land Board (MSLB) land transactions, Holy Ghost International Church in Mmopane finds itself entangled in a land dispute that could leave them with devastating effects of landlessness.
Fresh information gathered from sources demonstrate that the church was allowed to use the land under unclear circumstances. It is said the land was to be used as a ploughing field and nothing else. Chronology of events reveals that the ploughing field was first allocated to Malabola Kgogo measuring 350x230x265x350.
On the 9th of July 2007, it is said Pastor Jackson Kgopolo wrote to accept transfer of the field from Nelly Kgogo. On the same day, Kgogo wrote to transfer her rights to Holly Ghost Church.
“Compliance Certificate dated 19th July 2007 shows that the field was developed. Sub land board meeting of 18th May to 8th July 2011, the Board resolved that, the application for transfer of the field to the church is approved. That is to say, the field is to remain a ploughing field but under the church’s name. However, regarding use of the plot, this could not be approved as the church has to apply to the appropriate authority (Council and or Main Kweneng Land Board for consideration,” a report about the letter seen by this publication reads.
It is stated that on numerous occasions, the church had applied for a change of land use. That was in August and September and MSLB requested Council to asses and provide technical advice on the application made by the church. The church wished to change land use to mixed use.
The area in question is said to be part of Mogoditshane, Gabane, Metsimotlhabe, Tloaneng and Mmopane development plan. It is argued that the land is more than the standard size plot for a church and further, Land Board policy does not allow ad-hoc change of land use of agricultural land to the non-agricultural land.
However, the matter reached the High Court Order; as per Case CAHGB -000028-16 and heads of argument in the matter between Holy Ghost International Church (appellant) and Kweneng Land Board (respondent). The matter related to the decision by the respondent to reject an application for change of land use made by the appellant from ploughing field to a Civic and Community use, that being a church.
“On the 7th December 2018 proposal for a Mixed Use Development on Tribal Lot 1097-KO Mmopane, the Church submitted a proposal for mixed use development on Tribal Lot 1098-KO. Submitted was planning brief containing the details of the proposal inclusive of drawings and maps. Kweneng Land Board rejected the application for change of land use, the tribunal dismissed their appeal as did the High Court through a judgment delivered in June 2018,” the report said.
SUB LAND BOARD RESOLUTION
The matter according to insiders was considered by MSLB in July 2019 where it was resolved as thus: “The ploughing field is acquired. Further, the applicant’s request for allocation of a mixed use on the same is approved. Consent for cancellation of registered lease granted. The applicant shall complete the design of the proposed layout, develop and maintain the mini park for the public as proposed.”
The MSLB resolution according to the main land board was found wanting in the sense that all previous advice was ignored. Kweneng Land Board resolution, sub DLUPU recommendations and even High Court ruling were all disregarded and a decision to allocate applicant a mixed use plot on the same property which they had initially sought to change its use was subsequently granted.
“The board therefore grossly misdirected itself under the circumstances,” an analysis report observes.
WHATS NEXT FOR HOLY GHOST?
In conclusion the board observes that the decision by the MSLB on July 2019 effectively disregarded all other previous advice on the exact same matter; past Kweneng Land Board resolution, High Court judgment and the subsequent Sub DLUPU advice and recommendation for rejection of the application.
Already, the church has written to the Sub land board requesting the lease for the mixed use plot. “As such, the MSLB humbly requests that Kweneng Land Board have a look at this decision with a view to rescind it given the circumstances under which the resolution was taken and the entire background of the matter. The clients be invited to the board for further interviews into the transaction. Meanwhile, it is recommended that issuance of the lease be halted pending finalisation of the matter,” part of the recommendation from the board said.
The Land Board Chairman Kgang Kgang could not comment much on the issue saying they are yet to finalise it.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).