Convicted doyenne of Bakwena royal family and President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Kgosikwena Sebele, cut a sorry figure Monday morning as he jumped into the back of a police van to join other criminals.
Clad in his trade mark white safari shirt complete with the Zion Christian Church badge pinned close to his heart, Sebele picked his place at the back of the white police van which sped off to the Molepolole prison where Sebele would spend the next two nights in a wire mesh cage awaiting his sentence.
Sebele was last week convicted of stock theft. Tribesmen who had thronged the Molepolole Magistrates Court left the courtroom disappointed after Magistrate Basupi postponed Sebele’s sentencing to Wednesday.
Magistrate Basupi postponed sentencing to Wednesday, saying he had to attend to a meeting at the Village Magistrates Courts on Monday afternoon, and would then attend the opening of the legal year in Lobatse on Tuesday.
The Bakwena tribesmen, who had loitered around the church compound in anticipation, were disappointed when, after adjourning the court for lunch with the promise that he will pass judgment when it reconvenes, Magistrate Basupi decided to postpone sentencing to Wednesday.
“I wish the magistrate had passed judgment. I had asked for a day off so that I can attend this court case, unfortunately I will not be able to attend on Wednesday,” said an elderly tribesman, who also revealed that he has been religiously following the trial. He also said that the magistrate was wrong and unfair to Sebele by dragging the case out for too long.
“This is an elderly man and a senior member of the royal family. He has been suffering for too long, and the magistrate should just be respectful and tell him his fate,” he said.
But his sentiments were not shared by another tribesman who had also attended the royal hearing. He felt that Sebele’s continued incarceration is well deserved as he is getting his come-uppance, especially as he has always been a pompous person who had no respect for others.
“I really hope that he gets the full sentence. He must be punished for his crimes and serve time just like everyone else. I will definitely be here on Wednesday to experience his sentencing first hand,” he said.
Both men refused to give their names, saying that they do not want to be persecuted by Sebele’s detractors and supporters.
Perhaps the two men’s contrasting opinions are a true reflection of Sebele’s interactions with the Bakwena. While some people love him dearly, he is equally hated and deplored as a pompous person by others.
Kgosi Sebele cut a pitiful and frail figure in the court room, clad in a white safari shirt and black trousers. With a Zion Christian Church badge pinned to his chest, he kept giving furtive waves to his supporters and reassuring them that all will be well.
When asked what he had to say about the adjournment, he could only whisper, “I have nothing to say.”
This was the complete opposite of the outspoken man who, in his hey days, would have given the magistrate a tongue lashing for delaying justice and effectively disrespecting a senior tribesman. In the end, he was whisked away by uniformed prison wardens and police men.
Before that Sebele’s lawyer Shame Taimu had pleaded with the magistrate to consider Sebele’s efforts in national development. He said that Sebele is a trained teacher who has served this country well, as he was instrumental in the formation of the Botswana Local Police and the Customary Court of Appeal. He also said that Sebele is an elderly man who also cares for his sickly sister and thus does not deserve a custodial sentence.