The case in which Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgosi Kgafela II, is facing criminal charges produced fireworks yesterday after Kgafela attacked Regional Magistrate Barnabas Nyamadzabo, saying he is unfit and unqualified to preside over the case.
Kgafela II, his brother Mmusi Kgafela, Deputy Chief Bana Sekai and other regiment members are facing criminal charges related to illegal floggings in Mochudi. Kgafela and his co-accused want Nyamadzabo to recuse himself, saying that some of Nyamadzabo’s past judicial decisions are questionable.
“With all due respect, I call on you to recuse yourself because we believe your judgment will once again be riddled with bias, as has been the case in the past,” said Kgafela.
Before casting aspersions on Nyamadzabo’s credibility, Kgafela had addressed the magistrate in Setswana, pleading with him not to be offended by his comments as he was not attacking him personally, but rather his superiors.
“I am not fighting with you, but with the higher authorities. But your refusal to accede to calls for your recusal will draw you into the fight. It now means you are fighting Bakgatla and their kgosi,” he said.
Kgafela accused Nyamadzabo of taking sides with the state. He cited the incident in which Nyamadzabo ordered that Kgafela and his co-accused should be remanded, saying it was an unfair decision as the prosecution had presented unconvincing arguments.
“You pose a threat to us and we don’t want you in this case. Your judgment caused uncertainty and commotion in Kgatleng. We are not sure if you will not unleash terror on us again,” he said.
He accused Nyamadzabo of being cruel to him and his co-accused, as he chose to incarcerate them instead of taking the more lenient option of interdicting floggings in Kgatleng.
“My twelve years experience in law have taught me that a magistrate who opts to subject a suspect to a harsh term when he has lenient options is not fit for duty because he displayed weakness and bias,” said Kgafela.
He said Nyamadzabo failed to recognize Bakgatla’s noble intentions to restore law and order in Kgatleng, and instead opted to please the state. He accused Nyamadzabo of being misled by the media, saying he never beat a pregnant woman.
“The magistrate only wanted to persecute Kgafela, and he did that by passing a judgment that was augmented by lies,” said Kgafela.