Mafikeng high court on Wednesday heard arguments in a case in which Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela royal family in Moruleng want to interdict the embattled Bakgatla leader Kgafela Kgafela from using the title ‘Kgosi kgolo’.
The application to interdict Kgafela follows Kgafela’s application to stop the proceedings of the commission investigating Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela chieftainship pending the finalisation of his application in which he wanted the premier of North West to withdraw Kgosi Nyalala Pilane’s certificate of recognition and instead recognise his preferred leader Mpule David Pheto as the acting Kgosi of the tribe in South Africa.
Kgafela’s arguments are that as Kgosi Kgolo, he has the power to appoint a Kgosi in Moruleng something that has incensed his detractors in South Africa. In his application Kgafela had cited the Premier of North West as the first respondent, MEC for Traditional Affairs as the second respondent, Kgosi Nyalala Pilane as the third respondent, Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Traditional Council as the fourth respondent and Joel Malefetsane Mafereka – the chairperson of the commission investigating the tribe’s crisis-as the fifth respondent.
Following the application by Kgafela, the royal family joined the marathon case as respondent and immediately launched a counter application in which they wanted the high court to interdict Kgafela from calling himself Kgosi Kgolo of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Moruleng. In his founding affidavit, deposed in September last year, Kgafela had stated that he is the present sovereign of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribe in South Africa and Botswana.
“My status as sovereign in the tribe arises in terms of custom of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribal community and statute law that recognises such custom,” he said adding that the statute has been ratified by judgements of the high court and constitutional courts of South Africa.
In their counter affidavit deposed by a family member Kagiso Bana Pilane argued that as far as they are concerned Kgafela does not have the right to call himself Kgosi Kgolo of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Moruleng. Pilane argued that although the two communities (Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Mochudi and Moruleng) have common ancestral connection, they have since split to become distinct and autonomous tribes.
He said as such Kgafela cannot use the fact that Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribe in Moruleng and Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Mochudi have ancestral connection to claim to be the legitimate leader of the tribe in South Africa.
“…if that was the case then King Mswati of Swaziland would also claim to be a legitimate sovereign or king even over Swazi tribes in Mpumalanga, South Africa because of ancestral connection between the Swazi tribe in Swaziland and Swazi tribes in South Africa, or King Letsie the Third of Lesotho would also claim to be a legitimate sovereign or king over Basotho tribes in South Africa because of ancestral connection between the Basotho tribe in Lesotho and Basotho tribes or people in South Africa,” read the affidavit by Pilane.
Pilane also challenged Kgafela’s affidavit that he is the sovereign of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Botswana, adding that Kgafela is no longer recognised by the government of Botswana as paramount chief.
Pilane also said in the application that Kgafela’s repeated assertion that he is the sovereign of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Moruleng ought to be interpreted as an act of invasion or interference with the affairs of the tribe in South Africa’s right to self-rule.
“I must further submit that one of the reasons the first applicant (Kgafela) is so desperate to be recognised as Kgosi Kgolo of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in South Africa is for him to have control into the affairs, especially financial affairs of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribe in South Africa.”