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DITSHWANELO on the relocation of Ranyane residents

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DITSHWANELO, the BotswanaCentre for HumanRights would liketo inform the public about the outcomeof the Court hearing on the18 June 2013, at the Lobatse HighCourt. The Ranyane residents hadapproached DITSHWANELO forassistance concerning their unwelcomedintended relocation inNovember 2012.DITSHWANELO instructedBatswana attorneys to representthe residents and continued towork with them in communicationswith the Gantsi DistrictCouncil, the Gantsi Land Boardand the Lobatse High Court. On18 June 2013, a settlement agreementwas made by the residentsof Ranyane and the Governmentof Botswana.

 

 

 

The agreement wasthen made an order of the HighCourt by Justice Lot Moroka.On 18 June 2013, the Applicants’legal representatives appearedin accordance with theinterim order which was issuedby Justice Lot Moroka on 28 May2013. The interim court orderprevented the relocation by theGovernment, of the Ranyane residents.On 18 June 2013, the Governmentwas provided with theopportunity to convince the HighCourt that the interim order of 28May 2013 should not be made afi nal order. During the adjournmentof the hearing, the Governmentindicated that it was opento a settlement. This option hadbeen offered to the Governmentby the Ranyane residents in a letterdated 14 June 2013. Both partiesconfi rmed their acceptance ofthe settlement agreement in opencourt on 18 June 2013.

 

 

Justice Lot Moroka issued anorder about the following matterswhich had also been mentioned inthe DITSHWANELO press statementof 13 June 2013:• The residents had previouslybeen dispossessed ofthe borehole engine by theGantsi District Council.The High Court has now orderedthat the Respondents (theGantsi Land Board, the DistrictCommissioner and the GantsiDistrict Council) ‘will not removethe engine that currently operatesthe borehole at Ranyane’ withoutfourteen (14) days prior writtennotice to the lawyers of the Applicants(the residents of Ranyanewhose names appear in thecourt documents).During the meeting of DITSHWANELOand its legal representativeswith the residents on 8June 2013, there were additionalresidents who decided to becomeparties to the matter. They wereaccepted by the High Court asadditional Applicants on 18 June2013, and now the of Applicantsis over 70.• On 8 June 2013, the residentshad informed DITSHWANELOand its legalrepresentativesthat the government offi -cials had physically campedat the kgotla.

 

 

Thismade it diffi cult for them tomake use of the kgotla andto have access to wateras the water stand-pipe islocated next to the kgotla.The High Court has now orderedthat the government offi -cials ‘will park vehicles and/orpitch tents on the other side of themain road from Ranyane kgotla’.• On 8 June 2013, the residentsinformed DITSHWANELOand its legalrepresentativesthat the government officials had embarked on adoor-to-door campaignto convince them tochange their minds aboutnot relocating from Ranyane.The High Court has now orderedthat government offi cialswill not ‘enter anyhousehold compound occupied bythe Applicants without their expressconsent’.• The interim order of 28May 2013, had preventedthe Government fromevicting the Applicantsfrom Ranyane before thematter had been fi nalised.The High Court has now orderedthat the Applicants and theirfamilies ‘shall not be removedfrom Ranyane less than 48hours after those persons have informedthe Applicants’ attorneysby telephone of their proposedremoval’.•

 

 

In addition to the abovementionedmatters, theHigh Court has now orderedthat its order shallnot prevent the provisionof ‘food rations and othersocial services to the residentsof Ranyane’ and shallnot prevent ‘law enforcementagencies pursuingtheir lawful duties’.In the Botswana GuardianNewspaper dated Friday 21 June2013 page 11, it is stated that theSenior Advocate for the Applicants,Advocate Gordon Bennet,‘was back again this week at theinvitation of DITSHWANELO,the Botswana Centre for HumanRights’. DITSHWANELO enquiredabout the source of thisinformation. However, the BotswanaGuardian informed DITSHWANELOthat it could not revealits source. DITSHWANELOwishes to state unequivocally thatit did not invite or facilitate AdvocateGordon Bennett’s representationof the Applicants. DITSHWANELOurges the Respondentsand Government offi cials to respectthe order of the Court issuedon 18 June 2013.

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