Balete who are embroiled in a bitter battle with the government over the Kgale farms will not go down without a fight to give over their title deed to the disputed land.
The tribe, led by Kgosi Mosadi Seboko, will fight the Gamalete Land Board in court over the handing over of the title deed as they claim the farms solely belong to them.
Their bone of contention is 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 Kgosi 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.
The board is contending it is entitled to the ownership of the farm by virtue of Section 10 of the Tribal Lands Act.
Balete on the other hand are just not ready to give up the land the government is trying to seize and sell to investors for an estimated P7 billion.
Following their answering papers to the Land Board’s court application to be handed orders to seize the title deed, the tribe have made a counter application seeking the dismissal of the board’s application.
The founding affidavit deposed by Kgosi Seboko filed June 4, 2018 says the government has always been aware and acknowledged that the farms belong to the tribe.
She explained that in 1925, the tribe having recognised that they had relatively limited land decided to purchase additional land to be owned by the tribe. This resulted in the tribe purchasing and taking the transfer of the remainder of the Forest Farm Hill the same year.
“The tribe’s purchase of the farm described as the remaining extent of the farm forest hill measuring in extent of three thousand morgen was registered with Registrar of Deeds Office in Mafikeng on July 1, 1925 under Number 387,” she said.
Kgosi Seboko said in accordance with that deed of transfer, the tribe became the owner of the farm in the freehold. She noted that as per her answering affidavit to the main application by the Land Board, the Tribal Territories Ac, the Tribal Land Act and the Bogosi Act all contemplate that there may be land owned or held by the tribe which does not fall within the ‘tribal territory’ as defined.
Kgosi Seboko also explained that in 1973, the section of the Tribal Territories Act describing the Bamalete Tribal Territory
Moreover, the tribe in its counter application to the main application by the board is also challenging the constitutionality of the relevant Acts.
They explain that in their papers that the government in an attempt to seize the land was in breach of section 8 and 15 of the Constitution.
The founding affidavit further explained that the notion that the farm have been compulsorily acquired by the Land Board and meant to benefit all Batswana was inconsistent with Section 8 of the Constitution for many reasons.
“The tribe has owned the land since 1925 no reasons have ever been advanced to us why it is necessary or expedient for the board to be given ownership of and control over our land,” reads Kgosi Seboko’s affidavit.
She further states that the three mentioned Acts all contemplate that a tribe may own or hold land outside the tribal territory and also that no compensation has ever been offered or paid as required by Section 8(1)(b) of the Constitution.
On the breach of Section 15, Kgosi Seboko submitted that if the farm was vested in the Land Board by operation of law, the laws were discriminatory of themselves and in breach of section 15(1) for reasons among them being that the laws impose restrictions in respect of civil rights of tribes and their members.
Kgosi Seboko pointed out that also the laws were discriminatory in that the treatment was attributed wholly or mainly to the race of the people affected because that it was only black Africans who were subjected to the uncompensated compulsory acquisition of their land by statutory body. According to court documents, ownership of 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 and purchased the land from Aaron Siew.
To this day, the title deed is in the name of Kgosikgolo for and on behalf of the tribe. Attorneys Oteng Matlhala and Tshiamo Rantao represent Balete while the Attorney General defends the government.