Sunday, June 23, 2024

Balete were actually compensated for loss of Forest Hill

A very costly comedy of errors appears to have occurred in the marathon case between the Balete and the state. When the case reached its terminal end at the Court of Appeal a fortnight ago, Balete were awarded a parcel of land that has been referred to as Forest Hill 9-KO.

The archival record shows that the tribe bought Forest Hill from a colonial settler called Aaron Siew in 1925 for £3000. This purchase followed a communal whip-round that raised the necessary funds. In 1933, the colonial government set up tribal territories with its promulgation of the Tribal Territories Act. In 1970, in now independent Botswana, the Tribal Land Act came into operation. The latter divested custodianship of tribal land from dikgosi (traditional leaders) to land boards.  However, when these and other laws were being promulgated, there was always clear understanding that Forest Hill was private property that belonged to Balete. In recognition of such ownership, the government did actually buy two Forest Hill parcels from Balete and a third attempt to make similar purchase fell through.

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