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Mhalapitsa chieftaincy row boils on

MHALAPITSA: As the sun rose above the green hills of Tswapong South on Monday morning, the villagers of Mhalapitsa traipsed converged in numbers at the main kgotla to receive a ruling on the village’s eight-year-old chieftaincy dispute.

Two dikgosi, George Tlhwane of Artesia and Michael Molefe of Kopong were in the village to deliver the ruling on behalf of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane.

As Tlhwane stood to announce the minister’s ruling, the gathering fell still and quiet. Tlhwane highlighted that the minister had reached a conclusion based only on the report of the task force findings.

“I pronounce that the minister has resolved that the chieftaincy of Mhalapitsa belongs to the family of Motsatsi,” he declared. A deep silence followed the announcement. Kgosi Tlhwane added: “Nothing has changed as for now. Kgosi Bompoetse Gotshwanetse will remain on the throne.

“However, the ruling means the Sekolotos have no rights to the inheritance of the Mhalapitsa chieftaincy and will relinquish the throne to the Motsatsis at the time the minister will require them to”.

The feud between the families of the late Kgosi Motsatsi and the late Kgosi Sekoloto dates back to 2010 when Tuelo Motsowa, the grandson to Motsatsi, questioned Gotshwanetse’s legitimacy.

Motsowa was defeated on several occasions as the matter was heard by different Dikgosi. The feud was first brought before Kgosi Bokopano Koodibetse of Pilikwe who said he could not handle the matter. The Motsatsis then took the matter to Ramokgonami before Kgosi Sefako who also could not hear it.

Palapye Kgosi, the late Raditanka Ntebele assigned by the BaNgwato tribal authority, heard the matter and he denounced the Motsatsis. Kgosi Suping of Sefhare who was at the time a representative of the chiefs of Letswapo at Ntlo ya Dikgosi heard the appeal and he denounced it too.

The Motsatsis then appealed to Kgosi Serogola Seretse of the Bangwato authority who heard the matter in Mahalapye. He also ruled against the Motsatsis.

The matter was then filed at the Francistown court of appeal. The court referred the matter to the director of customary court, who returned the matter to Seretse. Seretse re-appointed Suping and again Suping denounced the Motsatsis.

Following unsuccessful attempts to convince the customary leaders, the other descendants of Motsatsi, the Moleejanes, took the matter back to the director of customary courts who then passed it to the minister.

At the forefront of the new wave of the Moleejanes’ battle was Michael Belebese, who similarly claimed supremacy over the royalty of the Sekolotos.

He believed that history attest that the Sekolotos are not the rightful heirs, as their forefather, Gotshwanetse Sekoloto, was only ordained as a regent. He said that history indicates that the Sekolotos originate from Rakops. He said the Sekolotos settled in Mhalapitsa amongst Bakhurutshe after fleeing from the civil wars that had engulfed their region at that time. Some of them, he said, settled in Lecheng.

As thus, Belebese felt the Sekolotos owed to return the chieftaincy to their family and to that effect, he felt the minister has served justice that was long overdue.

“We have been answered and we are ready to take over the

chieftaincy of Mhalapitsa. We will now wait for the minister’s word to tell us when to claim our inheritance and serve our people.”

On the other hand, Kgosi Gotshwanetse’s uncle, Balemetse Sekoloto argued his nephew is the legitimate heir to the Mhalapitsa bogosi.

Sekoloto said he survived Kgosi Motsatsi. He said Matsatsi personally raised him for the position. He said when Motsatsi felt he could not carry on any longer he presented him before Kgosi Gasebalwe Seretse of Pilikwe to ordain him as the chief.

Sekoloto said that because he had an elder brother, Gotshwanetse Sekoloto, he requested that his brother take the reigns and it was agreed. He said at the time Motsatsi gave them the chieftaincy he had sons that could take over. “Motsatsi’s sons were old enough and because he was a regal chief himself, he felt compelled to return the chieftaincy to the Sekolotos. That is why he chose us over his own sons and his sons never questioned him,” he said.

He said the current impasse was brought by the grand-grand children who were there when Gotshwanetse was ordained in 1998. He wondered why they did not question his legitimacy at that time and only did 12 years after. “Gotshwanetse has been Kgosi for 12 years and where have they been?” he quipped rhetorically. Kgosi Gotshwanetse was cagey to reveal the next step. He said the family would meet, discuss the judgement and draw the way forward.

However, Gaamangwe Phuduhudu of the Sekolotos spoke outright that the matter is not a closed chapter. He said they will immediately engage on the next route and they are prepared to fight to the bitter end.

“This chieftaincy belonged to our late great-grandfather Ntsoko Sekoloto, who chose Kgosi Matsatsi as a regal chief and there is no way we can let the Motsatsis take over our inheritance.”

“We do not know the basis of the ruling and we are surprised. This ruling is not based on our history; therefore, it is unacceptable to us. We will immediately appeal this matter,” he said. It seemed the community is fed up with the wrangling of power in the village and they accept the ruling just so that the matter could be laid to rest.

Kedidimetse Maboka acknowledged the minister’s ruling and said he hoped the matter will rest and would never be raised again. “This has dragged on for too long and we hope this is where it finally ends and our village will find peace.”

Sekabe Kilego of Mothabana ward said he is compelled to accept the minister’s ruling but he has never seen fault in Kgosi Gotshwanetse.

“I still wonder why the issue was raised with Kgosi Gotshwanetse’s father who sat on the throne for over 30 years. Why was the Motsatsi family silent all the time, why now? A lot of questions are not answered but we must accept the minister’s verdict,” he said.




A luta continua

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