Justice Modiri Letsididi of Lobatse High Court is expected to preside over a dispute over the chieftaincy of Omaweneno village near Tsabong.The dispute stems from disagreements among the Bimbo royal house over who the legitimate heir to the throne is.
Members of the royal family have filed court papers, each claiming legitimacy to the chieftaincy. However questions are being raised regarding an answering affidavit deposed by the director of the Department of Tribal Administration, Masego Mooketsi.
The residents were eagerly waiting for Kgosi Sam Bimbo to hand over the throne to what they call the rightful heir, Paul Bimbo, but his contract as Headman of Record was extended for another year.
The issue dates back from 2015 when some family members of the Bimbo royal house requested government intervention as they argued that Sam was only a regent and should pave way for Paul Bimbo.In an affidavit filed before court, Paul Bimbo argues that he is the eldest surviving son of the late Stephen Bimbo who was the Headman of Omaweneno village.
“The Omaweneno village was founded and established by my late great grandfather Samuel January Bimbo…In terms of tradition it is the eldest male sibling who succeeds to chieftainship when the seat becomes vacant due to death or other reasons,” he argues.
He notes that Samuel January Bimbo handed over the throne to his eldest son, the late Jonas Bimbo when he passed on.
Jonas handed the chieftaincy to his eldest son Stephen Bimbo in 1978 due to old age. Stephen passed on in 1986 when his children were still considered too young and not matured enough to take over from their late father. According to documents, a decision was then made by the Bimbo family to install Azaria Bimbo on an acting capacity for Stephen Bimbo’s children.
Azaria was the eldest son to Edward Bimbo, younger brother to Jonas Bimbo. When Azaria died in 1995 his younger brother, Sam (the current Headman) was appointed, also on acting basis for Stephen Bimbo’s children.Meanwhile, the Director at the Department of Tribal Administration, Masego Mooketsi, has disputed the facts as presented by Paul Bimbo and posits that Sam Bimbo was never appointed as a regent but duly appointed as headman of record in Omaweneno village.
She argues that the applicant is concealing facts in order for him to fraudulently present himself as the most senior descendant of Stephen Bimbo and to mislead the court. “In actual fact the Applicant has to my knowledge 3 full siblings…. Ezekiel who was the eldest has two children who have attained the age of majority,” she argues.
In the same breath Mooketsi tells the court in her affidavit that Paul’s mother was not legally married to Stephen Bimbo, and in terms of the Baherero of Omaweneno culture there is no way he can be a headman. “Applicant has two half siblings whose mother was legally married to Stephen Bimbo,” she posits.
However, some within the feuding family have not taken kindly to the Director’s statement and came short of accusing her of lying under oath.The family wrote to the director and questioned how she wrote about the late Kgosi Stephen Bimbo’s children and even claimed that Paul was born out of wedlock.
“It is so unfortunate for an officer of your caliber to confidently write about things that she does not know without seeking clarity first. We consider this as an insult to our Kgosi Stephen Bimbo and it is against our traditional customs,” reads part of the letter.
Meanwhile 80-year old Norah Kalako who is Paul’s mother deposed of an affidavit before court confirming her marriage to Stephen Bimbo. Harriet Bimbo, who was second wife to Stephen, also wrote an affidavit supporting the claims. Other members of the community also wrote supporting affidavits.
On the other hand Sam Bimbo, the current Headman of Record, has argued that the Applicant has no legal standing to bring the application, as he does not belong to the Bimbo family. He also argues in his affidavit that in 1995 the Bimbo royal family met and decided that he should take over the chieftainship as the younger brother to the deceased chief, Azaria. “I was never appointed by the royal house or the government as a regent or in an acting capacity,” he says.