The State Prosecutor in the on-going Bakgatla chief’s trial has declared that the country’s customary laws should not be used as a scapegoat to fulfill the desires of certain individuals and regions at the expense the nation’s unity and tranquility.
Alongside some of his tribesmen, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II is in the dock on assault charges, accused of illegal flogging of people, allegedly claiming that they were protecting and restoring order and traditional values in their district.
“The state is in no way attempting to belittle or despise our customary laws as alluded by the 1st accused person and his co-accused,” said State Prosecutor Susan Mangori said in court on Wednesday. “We respect all laws governing the nation, including our customary laws.”
It was tense at the court as people nearly saw the royal morafe followers take the law into their own hands as their royals vented their anger towards the private media, for taking photographs of their dikgosi.
“Against this backdrop it is unquestionable that ‘colonial or Dutch laws’ are held up in esteem sidelining customary laws,” Mangori further argued, adding that “we should guard against certain individuals who cry for the preservation of ancestral laws only to fulfill their personal goals and regions.
“Customary law should not be used as a scapegoat for selective individuals or regions.”
Lobbying for regional magistrate Barnabas Nyamadzabo, whom he accuses of bias against himself and his co-accused, to recuse himself from the trial, Kgafela took a swipe at what he called the ‘colonial and the white men’s laws’, “which the current government has embraced, ignoring our existing ancestral laws”.
“Our country is in a state of abyss and lawlessness because we have abandoned our ancestors’ laws and our customary laws. In Mochudi the police are unable to contain the escalating crime in the region needing the assistance of morafe,” he posited as he delivered the application for the magistrate to withdraw his services.
Kgafela even quoted the Bible which he said states that ”we must respect the authorities, meaning bogosi”.
Mangori maintained that everyone was equal before the law and rebutted the presiding magistrate posed a threat to them, saying the accused persons’ remand warrant issued on them some months ago by Nyamadzabo was not intended to fix them but was born from vivid explanations existing during the time.
“You were instructed to voluntarily stop the floggings but these floggings continued unabated,” Mangori said, maintaining Kgafels’s incarceration was consistent with the law and thereby not intended to harm or undermine the accused persons.
With or without the current magistrate, Mangori insisted, nothing would change as the same principles of law would be applied and the wheels of justice will run their course.
Nyamadzabo is expected to deliver the ruling on his recusal November 23.