The Family of God church members won the first round of their legal tussle with Bakgatla tribal authority, as Lobatse High Court Judge David Newman ruled that they should be allowed to worship without disturbance.
The church had approached the high court after Bakgatla paramount chief Kgafela Kgafela II whipped two of the curch’s pastors and banned them from worshipping in Mochudi.
But Justice Newman on Monday overruled Kgafela, ordering that the church should be allowed to worship while the case is still before the courts of law.
“Pending the determination of this application, each applicant shall be entitled to freedom of assembly and association, and to manifest and propagate its religion in worship within Kgatleng” he said.
In their founding affidavits, the Family of God church argued that Kgafela’s decision is unlawful and amounts to a violation of their constitutional right of conscience, freedom of thought and religion as guaranteed in the constitution of Botswana.
They also argued that Kgafela’s decision overrides the bye laws of the Kgatleng, and asked the court to make an order interdicting him from interfering with their church activities.
Kgafela was not present in court, and he wrote a letter explaining that he is held up in South Africa. His attorney was also not present in court, and he had not filed any opposing documents.
Justice Newman gave Kgafela until May 4 to have filed opposing papers; and ordered that a pre hearing conference should be set for June 7.