Multitudes of Bakgatla on Friday marched to petition President Ian Khama to drop criminal charges laid against Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela Kgafela so that he can return to the country and live peacefully. It also emerged during the petition hand-over that Kgafela II is willing to return to Botswana and settle if government drops the charges against him.
Business came to a halt on Friday morning as multitudes of Bakgatla tribesmen marched through the village, dancing and singing traditional songs in praise of their leader, to hand over a petition to Kgatleng District Commissioner, Wame Samapipi, who would forward it to President Khama.
Kabelo Moswetsi, a leader of the Mangana regiment, expressed confidence that President Khama will respond positively to their request, saying it is in the best interest of everyone for him to do so.
“I know he will respond within 14 days at the latest. It will also be appropriate for the President to visit the village to address the people on the matter,” he said.
Moswetsi revealed that Kgosi Kgafela II is ready and willing to return to Botswana to serve his people diligently as he promised during his enthronement.
“Kgafela II will return to Botswana as soon as the charges are dropped,” he said.
Moswetsi also revealed that Kgafela II was aware of their campaign and he will be shown video footage of the petition.
When receiving the petition, the district commissioner, Wame Samapipi, promised that the petition would have reached President Khama’s office by the close of business on Friday.
She added that President Khama will respond to their request soon after receiving the petition.
“I can’t say exactly when the President will respond to the petition. In any case, the petition did not state any time frame within which the President should have responded. But I am confident that he will respond well in time,” she said.
Samapipi also revealed that the long running acrimony between government and the Bakgatla royal family has made it very difficult to administer Kgatleng. She added that the Bakgatla tribal administration was almost dysfunctional and it was very difficult for government officials to hold kgotla meetings at the Mochudi kgotla, as they used to do every month, because the Bakgatla royals had banned government from their kgotla.
“However, the situation is gradually improving, especially after government re-instated Segale Lenchwe. He is working very hard to push the backlog of cases,” she said.
Asked to comment on the issue, Kgosi Bana Sekai said he was not part of the organizing committee and was therefore unable to make a comment.
“I don’t want to be dragged into the matter. I was never a part of it,” he said.
Meanwhile Member of Parliament for Kgatleng West, Gilbert Mangole, who was also part of the demonstrations, said it is time for government and Bakgatla to sit around the table and resolve their differences amicably.
“Bakgatla are pushing for reconciliation, government also has an obligation to respond positively,” he said.