The Family of God church, which is embroiled in a legal spat with Bakgatla paramount chief Kgafela Kgafela, have questioned the paramount chief’s authority.
The church, which was recently banned from worshipping in Kgatleng has filed an urgent application before Lobatse High Court judge David Newman seeking a declaration that Kgafela has no legal authority to expel them from Kgatleng.
“Kgosikgolo Kgafela does not have any legal authority whatsoever to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over the Family of God church, its members or anybody in the Kgatleng administrative district, because he has not been conferred with such powers by any recognized authority” they said.
Their lawyer, busand Manewe has explained that their argument in premised on the fact that Kgafela was appointed by morafe and not by the state, and is therefore not empowered by the chieftainship act or any other laws of Botswana.
Kgafela was not represented in court, and he has not filed any opposing documents. But he wrote Justice Newman a letter explaining that he is held up in South Africa. In his letter Kgafela also expressed his wish that the issue should be thrashed out through consultation before the route of litigation is pursued.
“Matters of social conflict are sensitive and potentially explosive, and it is my humble opinion that they require a careful approach informed through dialogue before litigation. On my return, I shall be available to explain so that the court may appreciate the need to pursue dialogue in this matter” he said.
He also warned that proceeding with litigation will not be in the interests of public order and harmony, and will only make matter worse for the Family of God church.
Kgafela also denies expelling the church from Kgatleng,saying that they only stopped them from worshiping in their school. He explained that Linchwe primary school is a community school built by Bakgatla long before independence.
But Family of God church leader, Bishop Keoleletse Keamogetswe insists that they were given permission to worship in the church.
Kgafela wrote a letter to the church on April 13, telling them that they have been disrespectful of the law agreed upon by the Kgatleng community.
“We do not regret flogging your members, and the same treatment will be meted out to them again. Your members come all the way from Francistown to cause trouble in Mochudi. I have been quoted saying that we will expel churches that do not live amongst us in harmony. That is exactly what we intend to do with Family of God church” he said.