Kweneng Land Board’s COVID-19 excuses rejected

The Kweneng Land Board has reportedly halted many of the activities at Mogoditshane Sub-Land
The Kweneng Land Board has reportedly halted many of the activities at Mogoditshane Sub-Land

Kweneng Land Board has suffered a major setback in its effort to fight a lawsuit against Ministry of Lands, Water and Sanitation employees as the Court rejected request to file papers out of time.

The Board that is currently butting heads with nine employees accused of failing to subdivide and allocate their ploughing fields despite the approval of their application to that effect in 2019. It had failed to file court documents including an answering affidavit when the matter was first brought against it.

The Board had then tried to use the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for it to have failed to file on time but the Court rejected the excuse.

However, the excuse did not fly with Lobatse High Court Judge Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe as he recently dismissed the Board's application for condonation.

Making matters worse, the Board had also failed to file heads of arguments for the same application they it sought and failed to appear in Court.

Left with no choice, the judge ordered that having read the documents and failure by the Board to file substantive papers and appearing in Court, the matter be dismissed.

"The application for condonation is hereby dismissed with costs in terms of the rules of the High Court. The main application will be heard on August 13,2021," reads the order.

In the main application to be heard, the nine employees accuse the Board of failing to subdivide and allocate their ploughing fields.

According to their Court application, the nine employees are holders of ploughing field land rights in the areas of Nkoyaphiri Mogoditshane, Gabane, Rakola, Diphiring and Gaphatshwa lands. For an example, in Reuben Thakadu’s founding affidavit as one of the employees seeking the help of the Court, they duly applied to the Mogoditshane Sub-Land Board to sub-divide their respective ploughing fields as per the existing policy and the subdivisions, which were consequently approved by the Board.

"Notwithstanding the approvals which happened in the last quarter of 2019, the Land Board has not implemented or given effect to the resolution thus the current Court application,” he said.

Thakadu explained that the Kweneng Land Board’s blatant refusal to give effect to Mogoditshane Sub-Land Board’s resolution to sub-divide their plots was without any legal merit or justification.

He argued that the refusal is prejudicial to them as their intended land use has been put to a halt pending performance on the side of the Board. “We took the decision to seek legal help because we have been advised by our attorneys, which advice we believe to be true that we have a legitimate expectation that the resolutions on the letters ought to have been given effect to,” he said. The Ministry employees are therefore, demanding that the Kweneng Land Board honour the resolutions passed by the Mogoditshane Sub-Land Board to subdivide and allocate the plots in the ploughing fields they own.

Through their attorney, Uyapo Ndadi they want the Court to order and direct the Kweneng Land Board to implement its resolutions dated variously as per each employee’s letter of 2019 to subdivide and allocate of a ploughing field in a manner that has been approved and contained in the letters in their possession.

"This is an application for orders directing the Board to implement its various resolutions touching on the subdivision and allocation of ploughing fields consistent with their letters,” further read their papers.

However, the Kweneng Land Board has reportedly halted many of the activities at Mogoditshane Sub-Land after the officers were probed and an audit on the matter was released in September 2020. According to the audit report into the Mogoditshane Sub-Land Board, it exposed flagrant disregard for land procedures.

“Particularly, it raises red flags on the acquisition of ploughing fields, sub-division of fields and compensation thereof, as well as transfer of residential plots that were offered as compensation,” reads the audit.

At that time, the principal public relations officer, Ministry of Land Management Water and Sanitation Services Alice Mmolawa said the audit was followed by a detailed investigation whose report they were currently studying.

Mmolawa also said the audit noted possible irregularities at Mogoditshane Sub-Land Board pertaining to the implementation of the compensation in-kind guidelines.

The audit noted that land administration processes and procedures were not followed when dealing with some issues of land acquisition, subdivision of plots and compensation in-kind of plots under investigation.

The audit was reportedly instituted by Kweneng Land Board and the permanent secretary then appointed an investigation team to carry out a detailed investigation into the audit report.

Meanwhile, the Board had filed its answering papers to the employees' accusation on time and have been denied to do so by the Court. The case goes for argument on August 13,2021.

Uyapo Ndadi represents the nine employees of the Ministry while Monthe Marumo represents the Board.

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