Ownership of Khama’s newly acquired farm contested

23 Aug 2018

Court records suggest that former President Ian Khama diverted Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Security Services (DIS) funds, equipment and personnel towards developing his family farm in the Central District.

The claims are contained in court documents in which famers from Tati Siding village are challenging a decision by Ngwato Landboard to grant Khama and his siblings a lease agreement on Ranch No 38 NP that Tshekiso Tshekiso claims he owns jointly with his son Tevor Tshekiso.

Khama, his sister Jacqueline, brothers Tshekedi and Anthony are cited as the 2nd and 5th Respondents. The current dispute between Tshekiso and Khama families stems from a case in which the Khama family and another family had fought for a borehole that was settled by the Court of Appeal in favour of the Khama family and their late father, former President Sir Seretse Khama.

In his confirmatory affidavit dated 31st July 2018, Tshekiso states that “We have faced a lot of harassment at the ranch from the 2nd to the 5th Respondents and or their agents whereby Botswana Defence (BDF) trucks delivered and dumped logs within our ranch and a multitude of other BDF and DIS vehicles and personnel armed with arms and ammunition, frequented and camped within the said Ranch No 38NP being our ranch.”

He added that we have also been chased within the ranch by a BDF Helicopter.

“As a result of the series of harassment incidents, I fear for my life and avoid even going to the ranch.”

According to Court records, the Ngwato Landboard which is cited as the First Respondent had allocated the borehole and watering rights unlawfully to one Ngoroga and therefore unprocedurally to a syndicate from whom the Tshekiso family purchased the said borehole. The decision was settled and the Tshekiso family complied with the Court’s decision and the Khamas availed their water rights to the former.

According to Trevor Tshekiso, on the 27 July this year, the Khama family served them with an application contending that their interpretation of the borehole case is that Ngwato Land Board has issued the Khama family with a lease agreement on the farm owned by the Tshekiso family being farm No: 38 NP. He said what is shocking is that the borehole case dealt with the borehole and not the Tshekiso family’s farm. He said according to the judgments by the High Court and the Court of Appeal which ruled that the borehole is the property of the Khama family, the Tshekiso farm never arose neither was it mentioned in any of those judgments.

Tshekiso said the decision by the Ngwato Land Board to grant Khama and his siblings lease agreement on Ranch No 38 NP is shocking they already have title deed over the same property. “This decision was made without involving us anyway.  We have never been involved in case with the respondents and are baffled that now they want to evict us on the basis of the said borehole case. The borehole itself was just a confirmation of water rights only and had nothing to do with land or a ranch, within which the applicants own and other borehole the ownership of which is disputed,” he said.

For his part Trevor Tshekiso states in his founding affidavit that Khama and his siblings have “given them 7 working days from Friday the 27th of July to vacate the farm with immediate effect or face eviction by the sherrifs or members of the Botswana Police Service.”

In his affidavit on behalf of himself and siblings, Khama denied that they availed the Tshekiso family water.

“They, being in essence squatters, helped themselves to the water and other rights attendant to the borehole despite several requests, through correspondence to their attorneys, for them to vacate the Ranch,” said Khama. He said the ranch and the borehole cannot exist independent of each other.

“…When one has a borehole in a communal grazing area that is subsequently changed into commercial ranches, as the area where our borehole is situate was converted, which conversion was also confirmed by the court of appeal one is automatically allocated the Ranch within which the borehole is, on the first priority basis,” said the former President.

He said following the Court of Appeal decision, he and his siblings as beneficiaries of their late father’s estate approached the Ngwato Land Board to register the borehole in their names and they were issued with the Tribal Grazing Land Lease over the Ranch.

“My siblings and I are therefore the rightful owners of the Ranch in which the Borehole Number 1553 is situated. The Applicants only had a lease over the Ranch because same was allocated to them on the erroneous belief that they were the owners of the said borehole,” said Khama. He said the Tshekiso family members are “squatters and my siblings and I are entitled to have them lawfully evicted from our property.”

Ngwato Land Board Secretary Neo Mothobi states in her affidavit that the Tshekiso family do not “have any title to the piece of land in question and it is rather correct to state that whatever title they had was granted in error.”

“I state that the allocation was to the owner of the borehole who ate the material time the 1st Respondent was made to understand that it was the Applicants,” said Mothobi.

She added that “…the intention of the First Respondent was to allocate to the owner of the borehole which is within the ranch in question such that if the title to the borehole has been vitiated, it follows that so is the allocation of the ranch.”

Mothobi reiterated that the allocation of the Ranch to the Tshekiso family was done in error and the intention was to allocate to the owner of the borehole.

Ngwato Land Board is represented by Lesedi Moahi of Moahi Attorneys while Tshekiso family is represented by Gabaikangwe Kebalepile of Kebalepile & Company. The Khama family is represented by Clement Mazhinye of Mazhinye Attorneys.