Former Bakwena Regent Kgosikwena Sebele has accused the Kweneng Land Board of undermining Bakwena Paramount Chief Kgosi Kgari Sechele III’s authority by overruling him using a “subordinate” piece of legislation.
Sebele’s remarks follow the Land Board’s action to overturn Sechele’s decision to grant a local family permission to bury their grandfather within their residential yard instead of the village cemetery as is common practice in Kweneng District.
Speaking at a kgotla meeting held at Kgosing in Molepolole this week Sebele said he had initially been approached by the family before referring the matter to the Paramount Chief who eventually gave the family the green light.
“I later received a call from Kgosi (Sechele) informing me of a meeting he had with the Land Board authorities who prevailed over him,” Sebele told a packed Molepolole main kgotla.
He said there was no legislation barring family members from burying their loved ones within their residential plots. “I have read the Section 17 bylaw which only grants the District Council the powers to control, maintain, and protect existing grave yards,” Sebele, also a former councilor, said. He said the piece of legislation specifically speaks to the control of the community cemetery and does not refer to people’s private property.
“The interpretation law will always put it clearly in favor of Kgosi’s initial decision to grant the family permission,” a fuming Sebele said, almost accusing the entire governance system of double standards.
“How come it does not affect Batlokwa or Balete,” he asked rhetorically. “I am very disappointed that our own Paramount Chief can be overruled using a subordinate piece of legislation. This is a deliberate challenge to us as Bakwena. A serious challenge. It’s unbecoming to us. An insult for that matter.” He said Sechele is guided by the Constitution of the country to which a bylaw is subordinate.
Speaking to Sunday Standard following the kgotla meeting Sechele confirmed the meeting with the Land Board, saying they pointed to “some piece of legislation” which prohibited the community from carrying out burials within their places of residence. The Paramount Chief said he obliged, choosing to respect the Land Board’s point of view. He said the 84 year old grandfather had expressed his desire to be laid to rest within the perimeters of his own residential yard as his dying wish. “The family had wanted to grant the father, grandfather that wish,” Sechele III said. Section 17 of the Kweneng Tribal Land Policy states that: “The deceased shall be buried at a designated cemetery. These cemeteries shall have been identified in consultation with tribal authority, village development committee, district council …and zoned by a village development plan.”