The Botswana Centre for Human Rights would like to inform the public about the issue of the recently reported intended relocation of the residents of the Ranyane settlement in the Gantsi District. On 1 November 2012, DITSHWANELO was approached by residents from Ranyane, seeking assistance concerning a decision that the Gantsi Land Board, the Gantsi District Commissioner and the Gantsi District Council planned to relocate the residents to Bera, New Xanagas and surrounding areas. DITSHWANELO decided to take up the matter. On 12 November 2012, the first consultations between DITSHWANELO and the residents were held. Subsequently, on the same day, DITSHWANELO sent a letter to the District Commissioner enquiring about the alleged intended relocation of the Ranyane residents from their settlement. On 19 November 2012, the office of the District Commissioner responded and informed DITSHWANELO that all enquires should be directed to the Gantsi Land Board.
In order to have an appreciation of the situation in Ranyane, DITSHWANELO and its legal representatives embarked on two (2) fact-finding missions to Ranyane on 21 December 2012 and on 17 January 2013, respectively. On 24 January 2013, DITSHWANELO’s legal representatives wrote a letter to the Gantsi Land Board enquiring about the alleged intended relocation.
On 2 May 2013, DITSHWANELO’s legal representatives wrote a follow-up letter to the Gantsi Land Board enquiring about the lack of response concerning the matter of the Ranyane residents, which was raised in their letter on the 24 January 2013. On 24 May 2013, DITSHWANELO received information from the residents that they had been informed by the Chairperson of the Gantsi Land Board that the residents were to be relocated from Ranyane commencing Monday 27 May 2013. Upon receipt of this information, DITSHWANELO acted promptly to stop the intended relocation.
On 25 May 2013, DITSHWANELO and its legal representatives held a meeting with the residents of Ranyane. The aim of the meeting was to ascertain the facts. DITSHWANELO’s legal representatives were instructed by the residents, to prepare an urgent application for the High Court to stop the intended relocation. At that meeting, the residents gave power of attorney to DITSHWANELO’s legal representatives.
On 27 May 2013, the application for the interdict was filed. On 28 May 2013, the application was heard by Justice Lot Moroka. He issued an interim order ‘interdicting the Respondents (the Gantsi Land Board, the District Commissioner and the Gantsi District Council) from evicting the Applicants from Ranyane pending the final determination of the matter.’ He also declared that, ‘pending the final determination of the issues raised herein the Applicants are permitted to remain at Ranyane’ and in the event of ‘opposing of the urgent application, the Respondents shall pay the costs.’ The Respondents have been given 14 days within which to give reasons why a permanent order preventing the relocation should not be issued, in accordance with the rules of the High Court.
DITSHWANELO and its legal representatives are aware of the various public statements which have been reported in the media and attributed to different institutions. DITSHWANELO believes that as the matter is now before the courts, it should be handled accordingly. We await the decision of the High Court on the matter.