Gaborone lawyer, Dick Bayford, recently made some 400 plus Ramaphatlhe residents smile after his pro deo ( free charges) efforts to stop the Ministry of Lands and Housing to retract its plan to evict all the residents of the settlement on the basis that they were not formally allocated their plots.
The residents of Ramaphatlhe had been given final warnings that they would have to vacate the plots they were residing in or the Kweneng Land Board would take the necessary steps to remove them from the plots.
They approached Mmakgodi senior chief representative, Letlole Thobega, under which Ramaphatlhe falls and told him about their concerns.
Thobega then made several inquiries with the Ministry, testifying that some of those who are requested to move out were, in fact, born in the area after their parents were allocated the plots before the establishment of Land Boards but that the Kweneng Land Board insisted saying that they were illegally on their plots and that they have to either move out voluntarily or would be forced to move out.
Bayford, after a request from Thobega to assist the residents, who Thobega in his affidavit described as “making a living from government social welfare programmes particularly Ipelegeng”, agreed to assist.
After filing a case against Kweneng Land Board in the High Court on behalf of the residents, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Housing issued the savingram to the effect that the Minister of Lands and Housing had, after careful consideration of the facts of the matter and further to submissions from both the Land Board and Kgosi Thobega, decided as that the people who were granted rights to occupy land by chiefs before the establishment of the land boards and have developed should have their rights regularized by the Land Boards and given certificates.
It further stated that those people who occupied the land after the Land Board came into operation and had developed residential structures should demolish them and go back to their places of origin.
The savingram finally warned that, ”The Minister’s decision means that the Land Board should act swiftly, but with caution, to evict those identified as squatters and close the matter.”
Bayford has declined to comment on the issue.