Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Land Board secretary supports quarrying company’s appeal against tribe

The appeal case by Quarries of Botswana (Pty) Ltd against GaMalete Development Trust (GDT) over the freehold farm owned by the Balete tribe south of Gaborone took a new twist on Monday.

The Malete Land Board secretary has, surprisingly, lent support to the quarrying company in its court battle against the tribe, derailing an appeal hearing on Monday this week.

Chippo Mpofu, last week Thursday, three days before the appeal, deposed an affidavit at the Court of Appeal, stating that the Malete Land Board “is not opposed to the relief sought by the Appellants” (Quarries of Botswana) and is accordingly prepared to abide by the decision of the Court of Appeal”, a move that has shocked the tribe.

Consequently, the case has now been postponed to the next session of the Court of Appeal slated for July this year.

Dejected tribesmen and women, who were bused to the meat capital of Botswana from Ramotswa, Taung, Mogobane and Otse villages, left the Lobatse High Court on Monday wondering what business the Malete Land Board had over their freehold farm when its mandate is to administer tribal land.
Balete hold and they have always led so, that they have a legitimate claim to their freehold farm, the remainder of Farm Forest Hill 9-KO purchased in 1925 for £3000 and whose title deed remains intact with the Deeds Registry Office in Gaborone.

The case was brought before Justice Key Dingake by Quarries of Botswana last year over the company’s claim that it had a right of way to a route that traverses the tribe’s private property arguing that the farm became tribal land in 1978 through a cabinet memo because it falls under GaMalete Tribal Territory.

The High Court dismissed the case in favour of the tribe.

In her replying affidavit to the land board secretary, Balete Paramount Chief, Mosadi Seboko, argues that at the time Mpofu deposed his affidavit, there were no elected Land Board members so he had no power to do so.

“In the premises, he did not have authority of the Land Board to depose to the affidavit. The Board would have to pass a resolution authorising him to depose the contents of the affidavit,” Seboko states in her answering affidavit.

Seboko and her subjects argue that in terms of the Tribal Land Act regulations part (II), the Land Board Secretary is a mere functionary who keeps records, preserves minutes and so forth.
“Mr Mpofu has therefore acted outside his mandate in deposing to the affidavit,” Seboko argues.

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