Bakgatla Kgosikgolo Kgafela Kgafela II’s chieftaincy ambitions in South Africa are in the melting pot after North West High Court President Monica Leeuw reserved judgment in a case in which he seeks to be recognized as the Kgosikgolo of Moruleng.
After presiding over lengthy legal arguments, Leeuw told the court that she needed time to make a ruling over the legitimacy of the claim.
In addition to recognition as the rightful Kgosikgolo in Moruleng, Kgafela also wants to have the power to appoint at least 60% of the traditional council.
If granted his wish, Kgafela will expel or force the tribe’s current leader, Kgosi Nyalala Pilane to resign immediately and pave way for his preferred choice being Kgosi Mpule Pheto.
The Court President during the proceedings asked if Kgafela was given a mandate by the 300 000 Bakgatla tribe both in Botswana and South Africa to represent them.
His advocate who is instructed by Maponya attorneys was at pains to explain that all Bakgatla want Kgafela to be the Kgosikgolo in Moruleng.
He said he was under the impression that Bakgatla had had several meetings to agree on Kgafela claim to the title since he is the rightful heir.
The advocate explained that Kgafela wants his recognition to be legitimized by the court of law.
He also said his client does not seek to be the Kgosi of Moruleng but rather the senior tribal authority or Kgosikgolo.
His argument is that in Setswana tradition Kgafela is recognized as a Kgosikgolo both in Botswana and South Africa like his predecessors.
Although responding advocates from the Premier’s office and Nyalala tried to tell the court that there is no provision both in the Botswana and South African constitutions that recognizes the title Kgosikgolo, the court President advised them that a precedent has been set before the court.
She further quashed suggestions by responding advocates that Kgafela is a fugitive from the justice system in Botswana and has ceased to be recognised.
“I cannot rely on the information from Botswana. I will make my own ruling,” Leeuw told the court.
Although the advocate representing the Office of the Premier stated that Kgafela II should be called Kgosikgolo as a status symbol, they advised that he should know that the laws of South Africa did not have a provision for such a title.
He said in South Africa only three titles are recognized for the tribal leadership, that is King/ queen, Kgosi/ Kgosigadi (Chief), and Kgosana (Headman) in that order.
The advocate further argued that Kgafela II’s demands are inadmissible since he was not even offered a certificate of Chieftaincy by the North West Premier.
“I respect Kgosikgolo Kgafela II, but he must know that you cannot be a cross boarder Kgosi as there is no provision for that legally.
If he wants to be a Kgosi he should follow the laws of this country,” he said.
In a brief address to his supporters, who had filled the court to capacity, Kgafela assured them of victory.
He said: “I am not worried about the colourful language that is used in the court.
I have confidence that eventually the court will rule in our favour.
It is a process that we have to follow.”
From outside court it was evident that Kgafela still commands high respect from his subjects.
Six heavily built bodyguards escorted him to a waiting, chauffeur driven silver BMW X5.
This Sunday scores of Bakgatla are expected to converge in Lesetlheng in Moruleng for a de-briefing and to map the way forward as they await the outcome of the court.