Two residents of Letlhakane are pointing a finger at Boteti East Member of Parliament Sethomo Lelatisitswe for ‘stealing’ their land in 2014.
Seventy-nine old granny, Gaboitsiwe Maphane and Franz Tsietso, 53, are on a mission to go and see President Masisi over the issue. In an interview with Botswana Guardian last week, Maphane said the MP knew the land was theirs and that he took advantage of her old age and connived with Ngwato Land Board to take her piece of land at Motatawa.
“I voted for him thinking he was going to improve my life. Little did I know he was going to cheat me and steal from me,” said Maphane.
She wrote to Ngwato Land Board on September 15, 2015 appealing decision taken by Letlhakane Sub-Land Board concerning the allocation of a ploughing field to Lelatisitse.
In June the same year the Sub Land Board resolved to dismiss her, saying she does not have the right over the land concerned. She was advised that there was enough space next to her field which she could use, and concluded by giving the MP the rights saying he was the rightful owner.
Botswana Guardian is in possession of documents between the parties, dating back from 2014. A document from the Land Tribunal in Palapye in 2015 says the matter was dismissed on the basis that she does not have rights over the land.
“In terms of the 1st respondent (Ngwato Land Board)’s Allocation Policy of 2011, at clause 13.0, ‘No claim shall be entertained in respect of a letlotla or lelota allocated by the Kgosi/Land Board and was abandoned for a minimum period of five years.”
Maphane had said that she last resided on the land in 1999-2000, which the Land Tribunal argued was 15 years ago. It also stated that Maphane’s claim is for a piece of land which they used purely as their homestead while at the lands contrary to the Botswana Land Policy (clause 60 VII) that ‘Farmhouses (mekgoro) will be situated within arable fields and agricultural holdings.’
In her letter to Francistown Land Tribunal dated November 10, 2016, Maphane said she had given no written or verbal agreement to release the land from her ownership, and that the land was rightfully hers. She revealed that she had owned the six-hectare plot since 1958 through the time of receiving a land grant in 1988.
Tsietso said that the Land Board took their ploughing fields homestead and allocated them to the MP. He told BG News that his intention was to register the homesteads as the village expands and submitted an application in 2003 to Ngwato Land Board.
Land overseer speaks
Serumola Modirwagale, 85, told The Land Tribunal that the MP came to him in 2014 asking him for a signature, and informed him to go and consult Maphane and Tsietso ‘as he knew they had ploughing field homesteads on the other side of the road.’
He told this publication, however, that he did not know then that the MP had already started acquiring the land with the Sub Land Board.
He said Leatisistswe tricked him into signing papers he did not understand since they were written in English. “Ideally, they were supposed to be together when the Land Board allocated him the land. He stole their land,” he said angrily.
Last year The Land Tribunal in Francistown ruled in favour of the MP, citing that he is the rightful owner of the plot as he followed the procedure.
The complainants failed to appeal the case. “The only way is for us to approach the president. A young man used his power to cheat us,” said Maphane.
In response, MP Leatisitswe said it was all a political gimmick meant to discredit him. He said that he knew the faces behind plans to destroy his political career and that he would not be fazed.
“Those people are insignificant and I know them,” he said.
He said that the plots in question were a barren land and that contrary to what the complainants are saying, their fields are 2km from his land.
“It was a bush and I started developing it in 2014. Even after complaining and appealing, those complainants have been rejected by the courts,” he said.