Motokwe residents on Friday celebrated the unveiling of their recently appointed chief, Batho Tshoso despite strong objections and non- recognition in some quarters.
On the wee hours before the ceremony, the former village chief, Olebogeng Puleng through his attorney applied for an urgent court application before Lobatse High Court to block the ceremony, but lost.
Puleng wanted to block the ceremony on claims that Motokwe chieftainship is hereditary hence the village chief cannot be voted in like what transpired with the current chief.
Last week, the former chief and more than 200 people who signed the petition had handed over the appeal to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Frans Van Der Westerhuizen challenging Tshoso’s appointment.
Their effort hit a snag as the minister in his response rather advised them to seek legal action, as they had explained their plans to do so in the petition because he will not stop the inauguration.
The feud on who should be crowned the village chief started after the former Kgosi, Olebogeng Puleng retired in 2016. Since then the village has not had a leader until Tshoso was appointed in December 1, 2018.
This has divided the village, as some want the former chief’s son (Neo) to be crowned the new chief, whilst others support Tshoso’s appointment. The dispute is believed to have been raging on since 2015 with a number of individuals trying their luck to take over the chieftaincy.
In the past Motokwe chiefs were appointed from Molepolole until 1981 at the time Motokwe village’s first resident, Kgosi Puleng was appointed the village chief up till he retired in April 2016.
Once asked if Motokwe chieftaincy was hereditary, Bakwena Kgosi Kgari Sechele III was adamant of not having any records indicating any change in Motokwe chieftainship ever since people were elected from Molepolole to lead the village.
“I do not have any records showing the Puleng family as royalty, even when Kgosi Puleng took over as the village chief he was voted in by residents not meaning he is of royalty. Residents can vote anyone capable to lead them,” Kgosi Sechele III said.
Reached for comment the chairperson of the organising team, Marshal Moeng said the ceremony went well stating that residents participated towards making the event a success. He said they were aware that the former chief is still not pleased with the village’s chieftaincy outcomes and has also snubbed the event.
Asked if they had invited him, Moeng said a delegation of elders who are also Dikgosana was sent to inform the former chief about the ceremony. “We were not shocked that the former chief snubbed the ceremony because he did not welcome Kgosi Tshoso’s appointment from the onset. He wanted to block the ceremony at court on Thursday, but his urgent court application was dismissed,” Moeng said.
Reached for comment, the former chief Puleng conceded not attending the ceremony claiming his chieftaincy has been stolen from him. The dejected former chief said a day before the event some Dikgosana visited
Puleng added that before his retirement he held a Kgotla meeting in which he announced his decision to step down and hand over the chieftainship to his son, but some residents did not welcome his decision suggesting elections should be held.
He said then he also went to Kgosi Kgari Sechele III of Bakwena who later held numerous meetings seeking residents’ opinion on the matter, but was later shocked when he appointed someone else. “I was shocked in one of his Kgotla meetings, despite my objection over the idea of votes, Kgosi Sechele asked residents to give him names of the people they would like to see elected to take over the chieftaincy,” he said. “I did not welcome his decision and tried to seek further clarity on the matter, but he ignored my letters.” Puleng conceded to have snubbed the ceremony stating that he could not attend the ceremony of the people who stole his chieftainship.
“Sese diragetseng ke setlhabi mogo nna, motho okase itumele fa selo sa gago se tsewa mogo ene jaaka go diragetse jaana, pelo yame e Bothoko,” Puleng said.
Puleng stated that the Motokwe chieftaincy is hereditary as it was handed over to them (The Puleng’s) back in 1981. “This is not over, I am waiting for my attorney’s advise on this matter. I want my chieftaincy back,” Puleng said. In their recent petition they challenged the minister to act as a matter of urgency and reverse the appointment of Tshoso and declare the post vacant. They had also appealed to the minister to install Neo Puleng, the elder son to the former chief as the new village chief within 30 days.
They also called for Motokwe’s recognition as a distinct ethnic group with its own language, cultural and traditional practices, such as chieftainship inheritance and recognise the Motokwe chieftainship as hereditary and not voted for.
Moreover the petition challenged that it was procedurally irregular when Kgosi Kgari Sechele III conducted an election of a kgosi and failed to acknowledge the fact that the descendants of the royal house (the Puleng family) should have ascended to bogosi the same way that his children will be installed as dikgosi when he resigns, retires or dies.
They also demanded an eminent correction of the bogosi inheritance stating that it will be in the best interest of the whole villagers in ensuring tribal unity and harmony.
The petition also threatened that if not addressed the matter is likely to separate the villagers stating that the scars shall emerge and may create profound lasting tribal hatred and mistrust.