Kgosi Kgafela II struck a pose and launched a scathing attack on Regional Magistrate Barnabas Nyamadzabo yesterday, creating the impression that he (Nyamadzabo) was at war with the Bakgatla sovereign and his tribe.
Motivating his application for the magistrate to recuse himself from the case, Kgosi Kgafela characterised Nyamadzabo as disrespectful.
He said they feared that should the magistrate continue hearing the case, they were likely to be convicted and sent to jail without justification.
"The case has not even started, but we have already been sent to jail," Kgafela said. "We were only released by the High Court after its intervention."
He submitted that despite the fact that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had given the court two options in a bid to curb continued floggings in Mochudi, the magistrate had chosen the harsher one.
Kgafela, his younger brother Mmusi, Kgosi Bana Sekai and 11 members of mephato (regiments) are charged with unlawful assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
"My belief, coupled with my 12 years as a practising attorney, (is that) if a presiding officer has a couple of options to curb a problem, then that officer chooses the most ridiculing and demeaning option, that officer is not fit to adjudicate," Kgafela said.
He added they had rejected government's request for them to stop the floggings because they wanted to curb social ills that had engulfed Kgatleng. However, the magistrate had allowed his personal feelings to cloud his judgement, thus weighting the matter heavily against them.
Kgafela also faulted Nyamadzabo for relying on the media when it reported that Kgafela and his subjects had flogged a pregnant woman and denied ever ordering his subjects to flog a pregnant woman.
He accused Nyamadzabo of inviting lies carried by the media into his court, thus giving rise to the perception that he (Nyamadzabo) had
"These show that the magistrate is on a course to find a way of ridiculing Kgosi Kgafela and his tribe by using unsubstantiated lies from newspaper articles against us," Kgafela said.
Kgafela charged that Nyamadzabo was disrespectful in that the magistrate tended to forget who he was, saying he used to be one of them (an officer of the court) before ascending to the throne of bogosi.
"You treat me like a common criminal," he said. "Before I became a paramount chief, I was a practising attorney saving lives, and I have never been implicated in a criminal conduct. If Nyamadzabo was respectful, he would have the decency not to send a paramount chief to jail," Kgafela railed.
He also took issue with being called an accused person and asked whether there was a law prohibiting people charged with criminal offences from being called by their names.
He said Nyamadzabo was lying when he said he would not be able to deliver his ruling in one session because it was too long. He was subsequently surprised to learn that the ruling was only a 32-paged document that could have been delivered in one session.
"During my days as a practising attorney, we used to have 50 to 100-page judgements delivered in one session," he said.
Once again, the Bakagatla sovereign asked Nyamadzabo to recuse himself because there was a perception that he would be biased. He said he was not at war with Nyamadzabo, adding that the war was directed at somebody else.
The case continues with more petitions for Nyamadzabo to recuse himself.