The planned Gaborone-Lobatse road upgrades maybe just be another catalyst to more legal battles between the government and the Balete tribe.
Balete who are engrossed in a bitter legal war with the government over the Kgale Farms say the road upgrades encroach on the disputed land.
The tribe is in shock that the government has already made a public notice about the upgrades of the road that will affect the disputed land while fully aware of the parameters of the land that is subject to a court case.
The Balete deputy chief, Kgosi Tsimane Mokgosi confirmed in an interview that they are aware of the planned upgrades though they were never consulted about the matter.
He said it was disturbing that the government will plan upgrades knowing that those upgrades affect the very same disputed land.
“We never had any consultation with the government though the upgrades will affect the disputed land, but we only had the contractor seeking to consult with the tribe,” he said.
Mokgosi said they did not engage them as they referred the matter to their legal adviser since the matter was already before court.
Balete attorney, Oteng Motlhala confirmed being aware of the developments and that he has already written to the Attorney General regarding the matter.
“The process now is to remind them that the land is still disputed and yet to be determined by the court. We seek an understanding as to why such decisions were taken about the land when the court has made no determination yet,” he said.
Motlhala explained that they have also taken the advantage of writing to the Department of Environmental Affairs as interdicted by the public notice that any comments or objections from those likely to be affected by the project and interested parties submit there. The government’s proposed upgrades, as per the public notice indicated that
The proposed road is reportedly about 5.5km, starting from Gaborone-Lobatse A1 Highway and will terminate at Mokolodi village kgotla.
The road is also expected to be modified to Type 5A cross-section of 2.5m lanes with 1.0 m wide sealed shoulders within the proposed road reserve of 30m.
On the location of the project, it is reported that the access road is located in an area dominated by the freehold land owned by Bamalete Land Board and towards the end it will pass through few farms and some residences. Balete, who are embroiled in a bitter battle with the government over the Kgale Farms, are fighting the Gamalete Land Board in court over the handing over of the title deed as they claim the farms solely belong to them. Their contention being that they purchased the farms with their own money for the benefit of the tribe and it has been in their ownership since 1925.
The Land Board is suing Kgosikgolo Mosadi Seboko and the Gamalete Development Trust for the title deeds to Kgale Farms in respect to the remaining extent of the Farm Forest Hill 9-KO.
According to court documents, the farms in question date back to 1925 when Balete bought a farm known as Forest Hill 9-KO farm for investment purposes. The tribe contributed to raising the 3,000 Sterling Pounds required to purchase the land from Aaron Siew. To this day, the title deed is in the name of Kgosikgolo for and on behalf of the tribe.