Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Bakgatla royals are so out of order it’s not funny

The Voice newspaper carries a story of an elderly man who was flogged at the instigation of the youngest of the Bakgatla royals, a certain Kgosi Mmusi Kgafela.

According to the story, Mmusi Kgafela once noticed that three bridle sets were missing from his house in Mochudi. He then carried out some investigations and learnt that a certain man who did odd jobs at the royal house had sold one of them to one Tselapedi Mooketsi, an elderly man whose body is now rotting with wounds from the flogging administered on his bare back by Mmusi’s henchman at his pleasure.

The elderly man alleges that Mmusi once phoned and requested him to return a bridle set he had bought from a certain Ntutwane, the odd jobs’ man, whereupon he explained to Mmusi that he had never bought any bridle from Ntutwane.

Mooketsi goes on to accuse Mmusi of breaking into his house, probably in search of his missing bridle, in his absence and without his consent.

Mooketsi’s persecution would start when he set foot at the Dibete Police Station to report Mmusi for breaking into his house. The old man is quoted as having said, “By some strange coincidence Kgafela and his gang found me there and for some reason the police chose to believe his story that I had stolen his bridle set and detained me instead. The following day they transported me to Mochudi Police where it was established that Mmusi had not reported a theft case against me as he had made Dibete police believe. I ended up at the Mochudi Kgotla where I found Mmusi and others waiting for me in Kgosi Sekai’s office.”

It was at the Mochudi Kgotla where Mmusi reportedly asked that the elderly man be whipped for his alleged offences which amongst others included contempt for royalty by not heeding to Mmusi’s call to come to the royal house.

In fact Mmusi corroborates the elderly man’s statement when he says, “At the Kgotla he was flogged because he was uncooperative, arrogant and insolent.

In our culture flogging is the punishment you give such a man. The punishment was also for receiving stolen property and refusing a royal call. As kgosikgolo Kgafela’s younger brother I am a Kgosi and have the powers to summon people to the royal house. Any tribes person who refuses this call must be punished as per our tradition.”

You see, I am not concerned by Mmusi’s missing set of bridle, and that is because I have no reason to. Actually I am not even bothered by who might have stolen them because honestly that is none of my business.

What I however have issue with is the way in which Mmusi appears to have total disregard to the laws of this country, which, ironically, he spent five years studying to become a lawyer. It seems the Bakgatla royals put some supremacy to their so called tradition and in the process place it above the constitution of the country.

As lawyers, the Kgafela brothers are well placed to know the rightful procedures that need to be followed to seek redress on trivial matters such as the stealing of things such as bridle sets. As lawyers, the Kgafela brothers know too well that the constitution of the country is the mother of all laws, traditions and cultures.

Obviously they have read the penal code during their law studies and as such they should be the ones teaching their old folks at the Kgotla about the importance of adhering to the laws of the country. They just have to swallow the bitter pill and accept that nowadays Bogosi plays no significant role in our democratic setting.

I know I am inviting an avalanche of criticism by pouring scorn on Bogosi but truth be told, the Kgotla is the most undemocratic setup ever in the administration of justice. In most cases the Dikgosi are not guided by any form of legal background in dispensing justice but rather it is emotions and self centered interests that determine the punishment meted out on accused persons.

For instance, Mmusi says the elderly man deserved to be flogged because he was arrogant yet he knows very well there is no such offence in the penal code. What makes the story of Mooketsi even more painful is the assertion that his plea to be spared the rod since he was over the legally prescribed age for flogging was not entertained.

The old man showed to be in touch with his rights as he went on to tell Mmusi and his men that he could not be flogged before he is seen by a doctor who would determine if he was fit to receive the lashes. He even reminded them that he could not be thrashed without a trial but Mmusi, whom I am told is way too younger than Mooketsi, insisted on the old man being tormented with lashes.

All that Mmusi could have done was to report to the police that his bridle had gone missing. The police are the ones who were supposed to carry out the investigations and their job would have been much easier as Mmusi already knew the suspect.

It was supposed to be the police, and not Mmusi and his gang, who could have searched the old man’s house. Come to think of it, even the police do not just trespass into someone’s house without a search warrant.

I therefore wonder what legal authority Mmusi had to break into the man’s house as alleged.

It is totally unacceptable to ill treat an elderly man and hide behind some skewed tradition or culture. Bakgatla royals must be reminded that Kgatleng is just a territory within Botswana and as such the country’s laws apply even to Kgatleng. We cannot have a state within a state as it now appears with Kgatleng.

Not long ago some drama students were flogged at the same Kgotla for playing a drama depicting some Bakgatla rituals. Not so long ago we had reports that Bakgatla had vowed to destroy Mascom equipment mounted near the royal homestead.

A few months back the Bakgatla Kgosikgolo threatened to ban some churches in his territory yet we all know the authority regulating church operations lie solely with the Registrar of Societies and not traditional leaders.

It’s even strange that even though the Bakgatla royals continue to poke their noses in matters that need government intervention, they remain without a government recognized leader in the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi.

Going through comments posted by readers in The Voice blog, one can tell many people are not amused with the way Bakgatla royals carry out their royal authority.

One reader commented, “Mmusi we are so much disappointed in you and you are a disgrace to the legal profession. You are a lawyer so behave like one plisssssss. You know it is unconstitutional to deprive one of a fair trial but you seem to take pride is such a gross illegality. You should take bogosinyana jwa gago monna o bo beele ko tlhoko kwa and respect human rights.”

Another reader posted this, “kana tota batho ba ga se Dikgosi because the law of Botswana does not recognize them. They are not represented ko ntlong ya Dikgosi.

The minister has the powers to elect a Kgosi for them.”

Yet another reader had this to say, “This has gone way too far. These guys are trampling human rights. It’s absurd. Bogosi jwa bone bo tla re tsenya stress. They are not the first Dikgosi mo Botswana.”

I know by commenting on the Bakgatla issues, I am stepping on fragile toes but like I always say, someone just has to tell the truth even where it hurts others. If the Bakgatla royals are going to fume and assemble their Mophato to hunt down on me for a few lashes, let it be known that I am just in pursuit of the truth as I deem it and that should not break any friendships.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.