FRANCISTOWN: The ugly Tati Siding deputy chieftainship bickering took a new twist after Kopano Maruping took the matter to the High Court.
On December 12 in 2017, Maruping was elected by residents of Tati Siding to deputise Kgosi Simon Nkgageng.
However Maruping who is now the chairperson of Tati Siding Village Development Committee (VDC), did not ascend to the position of deputy chief because of an alleged previous criminal conviction.
The conviction, Maruping said, was in relation to a 1984 case of common assault in which he assaulted a boy who had stolen his family’s donkey.
He told The Monitor that the police took his fingerprints after the incident, but he was later acquitted and discharged of the offence. About the common assault case Maruping said: “In 1984, a charge of common assault was laid against me. It was in relation to an incident in which I assaulted a boy who had stolen our family donkey. The police took my fingerprints but I was later acquitted and discharged of the offence.
“Even though I was discharged of the offence and my fingerprints had to be erased, I still heeded the advice of the tribal authorities who told me to write a letter to President for pardon.
On December 27, 2017, I wrote a letter to the Office of the President (OP) asking to be pardoned and I was pardoned this year,” he explained. Nkgageng showed this reporter a letter of pardon from the OP which legitimised him to enter the fray to contest the election for the position of headman of records.
The letter dated March 27, 2018 from Anthony Dijeng on behalf of the permanent secretary to the OP reads in part, “I am directed to inform you that your request for presidential pardon has been successful. His Excellency the President Of Botswana (Ian Khama) has approved your request.”
The letter continues: “The gravity of the presidential pardon restores to you civil liberties such as the right to work and the right to hold public office amongst others that you lost as a result of the offence for which pardon has been granted”.
According to the Bogosi Act, a person who shall resume chieftainship duties shall have no criminal record. In April this year, it was for the third time that the election for the headman of records was postponed.
About three weeks back, the residents of Tati Siding took a decision to postpone the election again to April 27 because a few people came to the Kgotla to vote for the
On Friday, The Monitor went to Tati Siding Kgotla to cover the election, but found it deserted.
A special constable found at the Kgotla said that the election was postponed again indefinitely for the fourth time.
He did not explain why the election was postponed save to say that last week a meeting was hastily convened to inform residents of Tati Siding that the election will not be held as previously scheduled.
A senior figure in the village who is close to the issue told The Monitor that the election was postponed because Maruping had taken the matter to the High Court wanting to be installed as the headman of records because he had won the election to become the village’s deputy chief.
The source, who preferred anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, added that Maruping was of the view that even if he had a previous offence, he was entitled to ascend to the position of headman of records because he was cleared by the court and pardoned by the President.
“He is of the view that the election should not be held because he was the bona fide deputy chief who was elected by the people and has no criminal record.
He wants the High Court to determine if the holding of another election would not be trampling on his constitutional rights.
The election has been postponed indefinitely until the High Court makes a pronouncement on the matter,” the source explained.
Maruping confirmed he approached the courts because he strongly feels that he was wrongly denied the opportunity to ascend to the position of the headman of records after the people elected him.
“Yes my lawyers are handling the issue and will take it to the High Court for determination. The people voted me to become their leader and as such there is no need to hold another election. If the court decides that I should not be installed as the village’s deputy chief and another election should be held, I will obey that ruling and contest for the position again.”
“I am not waging a fight with anyone, but just want the court to make a determination on the matter. Just like any citizen of this country, I have a constitutional right to take matters to the courts if I feel that something was not done properly,” Maruping concluded.