Vincent Phologo has been reinstated as kgosi of Makopong village. The reinstatement which was done this week Tuesday follows a case in which Phologo, who was removed from the chieftainship through a court order, sought rescission of Judge Michael Leburu’s judgment which stripped him of bogosi which he argued in court papers that it rightly belongs to him.
Judge Jennifer Dube of the Lobatse High Court in a ruling which she also castigated the Attorney General for lack of professionalism ruled in favour of Phologo. In the matter, Phologo argued that he is entitled to rescission of the judgment so that the real issues in dispute between the parties can be “fully ventilated”. Phologo was in April last year relieved of his duties as Sub-chief for Makopong village following a court order by Justice Leburu that his appointment to the position back in 2016 was unprocedural and should be set aside.
The judgment followed a successful bid by some members of the Makopong community who challenged in court his appointment without elections being held. However, in her ruling Justice Dube rescinded and set aside Leburu’s judgment saying for the sake of fairness and justice, the rescission should be granted and real issues between the warring parties be ventilated in an open court. She noted in her ruling that Justice Leburu decided the review application without the benefit of an answering affidavit from the applicant, hence his conclusion that the matter was unopposed.
“However a court may, upon a rescission application, rescind its own judgment upon the discovery of vital documents or information,” she said. Justice Dube argued that based on the evidence before her, Makopong chieftaincy issues are sensitive and important in that they cannot be resolved on paper or on technicalities. The judge said on the initial matter before Judge Leburu, Phologo was hard done by the Attorney General, which was representing him at the time. According to the judge Phologo trusted that the attorney handling his case at the Attorney General as instructed by the Ministry of Lands could handle his case in a professional and satisfactory manner.
“After the Attorney General was instructed he did not personally receive court notices, therefore he did not know that his case would be heard,” argued Judge Dube, further saying, in her view, it was incumbent upon the attorney at the Attorney General’s Chambers to inform him of court sessions as court notices were received by the said attorney on behalf of the client. “The attorney representing the applicant failed to demonstrate professionalism and sensitivity towards the applicant’s case,” she said. Following the ruling the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development moved swiftly to reinstate Phologo as Kgosi for Makopong.
In a letter signed by Minister Frans Solomon Van Der Westhuizen, the ministry stated in part that the consequence of Justice Dube’s “judgment is that by operation of law your earlier removal has been set aside and I herewith reinstate you…This is with immediate effect and retrospective.” On Tuesday assistant minister Kgotla Autlwetse was in Makopong to reinstate Phologo. However, respondents on the rescission case led by Dixon Dijeng are intending to appeal Justice Dube’s ruling, as they believe the judge has made an error when she ruled in favour of Phologo.
The main contention in the Makopong chieftaincy dispute is whether the bogosi in the village is hereditary or is determined through a vote. Phologo argues bogosi in Makopong is hereditary while some community members who launched the court case following Phologo’s appointment argue that the Kgosi in that village is selected through a vote.
Meanwhile community members are also questioning why Phologo has been reinstated because according to them Phologo should have made an application before court for reinstatement following Judge Dube’s ruling. They also say there was no court order that compelled the minister to reinstate Phologo.