Some business people have taken to grabbing land from Basarwa cheaply taking advantage of their economic and academic situation.
In Serowe most Basarwa reside in Mannathoko, Palamaokue and Ramogate wards. Mannathoko is where Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) houses are and the place has been regarded as the future Serowe suburbs. The building of the BHC houses and government staff houses in the area have raised the value of the land in that area.
There is massive construction of big houses in the area, which used to be owned by Basarwa and the makeshift houses, which used to characterise the area are nowhere to be seen. Where it used to be makeshift houses has turned into big security walls with tiled castle houses.
Councillor for Tidimalo ward, Solomon Dikgang said that looting is rampant in Mmanathoko ward and in one instance he had to approach the Ngwato Land Board to halt some of the ‘land transfers.’In 2007 the Basarwa living in Mannathoko were given land certificates after my intervention and all of a sudden we saw big structures coming up where some of them were given the plots.
To our utter shock we learned that some people have bought the plots [from them] at around P500.00 or less.’’ Dikgang said that some people changed the P500.00 into P20 denominations and when Basarwa saw the money they thought it was a lot of money and took it. “I know some people who were doing that and we had to warn them about that because it is daylight robbery.’’
Some of the people who buy the land are said to be expatriates and rent the houses while Basarwa move further into the bushes or are taken up by social workers. In Ramogate, the councillor for the area, Queen Molefhi said that the situation used to be worse but has improved after he addressed them. “Just two months ago, I went to help others to apply for residential plots, only to find out that some of them have previously sold their plots.’’
Councillor Molefhi said that the most worrying thing is that some people who take advantage of the Basarwa are foreigners who now own many plots in Serowe. “To curb the problem, I have told them to call me if anyone wants to buy a plot from them.’’ In Letlhakane, the premier village for the diamond mining companies the situation is even worse than in Serowe.
Metsiaela ward, which used to be home to more than 3000 Basarwa is now turning into a suburb and multi residential houses. The houses are rented out to mine workers and companies that have been engaged by mining companies thus making property market in the area lucrative. Currently most of the Basarwa who were residing there have no plots as they were bought from them cheaply.
One expatriate owns two multi residential plots in the area and is currently developing another one. The plots according to a source are bought at P200.00 and the owners sent to farms to look after the purchaser’s livestock. Letlhakane chief, Kgosi Baruntshi Kegapetswe said that they have tried to address the residents about selling their plots but they seem to be hitting a hard rock.
“Once you tell them that they would say ‘akere Ian o teng’ (meaning President Ian Khama would help them.’’ Ngwato Land Board could not provide statistics at the time of writing.