Freedom to talk and visit relatives and friends is a thing of the past for Bakgatla Paramount Chief, Kgafela Kgafela ll, according to his associate and spokesperson, Bakgatla community leader Victor Modimakwane.
During an interview with The Gazette team in Rustenburg recently Modimakwane revealed that Kgafela does not even have a cell phone, “and he will not be allowed to get one until the tussle of the chieftainship is resolved,“ he said.
Modimakwane said they had decided to deny their Kgosikgolo access to phones because they are aware that he is a person who talks whatever is in his mind.
“So we do not want a situation whereby he will end up saying things that will hit back at him. His uncle Ramono Pilane acts as a go-between him and whoever wants talk to him. If there is an important call that needs him personally his uncle gives him the phone and after talking he takes it back,” said Modimakwane.
He said the Kgosikgolo had tried on numerous occasions to obtain cell phones, but they had always confiscated them.
Asked if Kgafela was not a virtual prisoner, Modimakwane said they were “protecting the Kgosikgolo from the people who want to abduct him.” He revealed that Kgafela was constantly being moved around so that few people would know his whereabouts.
Asked about the paramount chief’s means of support Modimakwane said he was being supported by friends and well wishers until the chieftainship of the Bakgatla has been resolved.
Bakgatla spokesman in Mochudi, Kgosi Bana-Sekai Linchwe said they see no problem with the way Kgafela is living. “He is a soldier,” he said of Kgafela, implying that the way he lives makes him a stronger person.
Kgafela recently petitioned the Mafikeng High court to force the North West Province Premier, Thandi Modise, to derecognise his uncle Nyalala Pilane, as the leader of Bakgatla in Moruleng and to recognise his preferred choice, Mpule David Pheto, as Bakgatla acting leader in SA, following allegations of misuse of the tribe’s resources by Pilane.
The case was scheduled to be heard on the 10th of October but was postponed to 21st of October to give the North West premier sufficient time to respond to the petition.
Provincial Head of Communication and Spokesperson-Office of the Premier (North west Province), Lesiba Kgwele, told The Gazette in an interview over the weekend that, “the provincial committee on the Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims established in terms of the Governance Framework Act 41 of 2003 to restore the dignity and integrity of the traditional communities and the entire institution across SA was on the verge of completing its investigations into the dispute of chieftainship of the BBKT, when its work was interrupted by the notice of an intention to apply for a court interdict that Kgafela had lodged through the North West High court.”
He said Premier Modise was awaiting the recommendation of the independent commission before she pronounced on the chieftainship of the BBKTC.
However leading members of the Bakgatla-ba-ga-Kgafela community in Moruleng, including Nyalala Pilane, conceded that Kgafela Kgafela II, is their paramount chief.
The Gazette is in possession of documents that include affidavits from senior members of the Bakgatla Ba-Kgafela Traditional Council (BBKT) in SA, verifying Kgafela’s powers over both Bakgatla-ba-ga-Kgafela in Mochudi and Moruleng villages.
In one of the affidavits that Pilane presented before the North West High Court in 2011 when he was challenging some of the royal family members in Moruleng for holding meetings under the name of the royal family, this is what he said concerning Kgafela’s chieftainship position in support of his application:
“The paramount chief in Mochudi rules both sections in Mochudi and Moruleng of the BBKT, but does so with the kgosi representing him over Moruleng. I am discharging this function at present. The two villages are not independent but are inter-dependent, both in substance and in form,” stated Pilane in the affidavit.
“The communities are substantially intertwined. There is nothing the one traditional community gets done without including the other community for example, commercial enterprises and customary functions, rituals, etc,” added.
The affidavit goes on to state that the long-standing position remains in force and applicable today; that the fact that the one village is in Mochudi, Botswana and the other in Moruleng, SA, neither inhibits nor prevents the exercise of traditional laws and customs of the BBKT for the two communities to enjoy their unique chieftainship: The two respective governments of SA and Botswana have mutual recognition and acceptance of the BBKT chieftainship, according to Pilane’s affidavit.
In the latest affidavit that he made last December when he (Pilane), Kgafela and nine others were dragged before the Land Claims Court in Rustenburg by the BBKT Communal Property Association over a portion of land in Moruleng, Pilane stated in his filing notice that, “the traditional community in Moruleng has a consanguinity and attachment to the BBKT in Mochudi. The affinity manifests itself in that Kgosi of the traditional community is appointed by Kgosikgolo Kgafela who is based in Botswana, but is presently in SA since the beginning of the year 2012.”
Another affidavit that The Gazette studied was one authored by Senotho Pilane, acting headman of Lekutung, a sub-village of Moruleng. He confirmed that Kgafela was the ultimate head of the traditional leadership of the BBKT leadership in Moruleng.
Asked whether the North West premier was aware of Nyalala’s affidavits that admit that he operates under Kgafela, spokesperson Kgwele said: “The office does not at this stage wish to comment on the BBKT dispute which is being investigated by the Provincial Committee on the traditional leadership disputes and claims. We are awaiting a report of the committee to inform her decision on the matter and regard it as subjudice.”
Contacted for a comment, Nyalala declined to speak saying he was in a meeting.
Historically, BBKT Kgosikgolo Kgamanyane fled north-westward after clashing with Boer Commandant General Paul Kruger in Rustenburg, who wanted the Bakgatla Chief to cede slaves from the tribe to work on Boer farms.
Kgamanyane took with him approximately half of his community when he migrated in the mid 1800s and settled in what is now Mochudi village, named after a Bakwena chief, Motshodi. The area later became part of the Republic of Botswana, which gained independence in 1966.
There have been successive Bakgatla chieftains following the death of Kgosikgolo Kgamanyane in 1892, with Mochudi and Moruleng ruled by his descendants.