A mineral-rich North West community is fighting over who the rightful head is, as warring factions battle it out in court.
A faction of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela was last week restrained, interdicted, and prohibited from holding an annual community meeting, “kgotha-kgothe”, which was scheduled for last Saturday at Moruleng Stadium.
This followed an urgent application by North West cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Nono Maloyi and the community’s administrator, Phineas Tjie, who was appointed following recommendations of a commission of inquiry chaired by advocate Sesi Baloyi and set up by the provincial government.
Acting North West High Court Judge President Tebogo Djaje stopped a group of community members from holding any meetings under the guise of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela.
”The respondents are hereby restrained and interdicted from interfering in whatsoever manner with the day to day running of the activities of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela traditional authority and its management thereof,” reads the interim order.
In addition, the court also set December 14 or soon thereafter as the return date for the matter.
The community, led by Harold Sebele Pilane, later challenged the ruling by Judge Djaje after filing a reconsideration application.
”The learned judge erred in granting the order on November 9, 2023, without affording the applicants (the community) an opportunity to be heard and on an ex parte (from one party) basis,” states a ruling handed down on November 10.
The high court also found that Judge Djaje erred in refusing to reconsider her ruling and to reconsider it.
” … The learned judge erred in granting the interim interdict against the applicants in circumstances where the respondents had not established the requirements thereof and without granting the applicants an opportunity to be heard,” reads the judgment, which adds that the final interdict was granted in error purportedly as an interim interdict without affording the affected parties a right to be heard.
The Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela royal family has also taken the report of the commission of inquiry under review at the North West High Court in Mahikeng.
According to the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Moruleng in the North West, they are not opposed to interventions by the government in principle, but have apprehension about the rush to place their traditional authority under administration, a decision they have also described as overzealous, unjustified, unwarranted and unconstitutional.
”It is common course that Bakgatla own, after toiling to buy it, tracks of arable land that produce food whilst livestock feeds from them. This is an invaluable resource or asset that Bakgatla forebears left them as an inheritance.
“Furthermore, this land is rich in mineral resources including platinum and chrome,” the royal family stated.
It accused the government of acting outside the law, and in a prejudicial and unnecessary manner by imposing an administrator on the community when it is challenging commission of inquiry’s report in court.
Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela across 32 villages in Moruleng have investments worth billions of rand that are managed by Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Investment Holdings, including in exploration and processing of their natural resources.
The community also owns the land on which the Sun City resort is built.