FRANCISTOWN: The land dispute between residents of Area W and Mater Spei College (MSC) in Francistown has been decided in favour of the college while the petition by the residents has been turned down.
The piece of land, Lot 12596, is a playground lying between residential homes and the Botswana Defence Force camp in Area W.
In a letter addressed to the Concerned Residents of Area W, the Minister of Lands and Housing, Ramadeluka Seretse, dismissed the residents' claim that Lot 12596 belonged to the residents.
The Minister's letter says Lot 12596 was never owned by the council: "Lot 12596 was sold to the Government by The Employment Bureau of Africa (TEBA) in December 1987 and is ... Registered State Title No. 326/88 of June 17, 1988.
"Lot 12596, measuring 3,5397ha, has been subdivided and a 1.5ha portion of it has been reserved for Mater Spei College's use as sports grounds. It is on the basis of the foregoing facts that the Minister decided that the subdivision of Lot 12596 and the reservation of the 1.5ha portion of this plot for MSC sports grounds should stand. The remaining 2.0397ha portion of Lot12596 will remain an open space."
However, the Minister advised the residents that MSC is amenable to consultation with them on how best their interests could be accommodated in the use of the land. "You may therefore directly talk to the college officials on that note."
The conflict, which dates back to 2004, was recently re-ignited during a Kgotla meeting addressed by the Minister of Justice, Defence and Security and Member of Parliament for Francistown East, Phandu Skelemani, who had been asked by the residents to intercede on their behalf
At the meeting, a resident, Bothojwamotho Motswetla, likened the MSC's conduct to that of a bull in a china shop, alleging that the college had once claimed that Nyangabgwe Primary School playground was theirs.
Elderly Motswetla pleaded with Skelemani to stop "the Roman Catholics from harassing us." The MSC is a Roman Catholic mission school.
In the petition to Seretse, the residents detailed how the plot had evolved into their possession. They said Lot 12596 and Lots 14055-14093 are products of subdivisions of plot 4896 that was donated to the Francistown City Council (FCC) by the Employment Bureau of Africa on December 11, 1987.
The plot is registered in favour of the FCC title deed number 12/88. The council allocated the subdivided plots (14055-14093) to Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) applicants, the petitioners said.
"Our children have been using this playground since then. Our late councillor Samuel Ntobedzi had informed us that the plot belongs to the council."