A fresh and amended charge sheet has resulted in the number of Bakgatla tribesmen facing charges of illegal flogging rising from 14 to 27.
This happens in the wake of collapsed reconciliation talks between the complainants and the accused.
Initially in the dock was Bakgatla Paramount Chief Kgafela Kgafela, his younger brother Mmusi Kgafela, Deputy chief, Bana Sekai and 11 other tribesmen.
On Monday this week at least 27 Bakgatla tribesmen appeared before Regional Magistrate Chris Gabanagae. They are being tried for illegally flogging some residents of Mochudi in 2009.
Representing some of the accused persons, Advocate Sidney Pilane told the court that some of the accused persons had no legal representation and pled with the court that before they could be arraigned, they should be afforded an opportunity to state whether they intended to engage attorneys or not.
In response some of the accused persons told the court that they would engage attorneys while others revealed that they intend to appear in person.
Separation of trial was expected to be heard on Tuesday. He revealed that they are likely to have more than three batches of accused persons applying for separation of trial.
“One of the matters that has intervened and stands on the way is that some accused person want legal representation and of course in the ordinary course they need instructions from their lawyers on how to plead,” he said.
One of the defence lawyers Joao Salbany also shared Pilane’s sentiments that the accused persons should not be tried in the same trial saying there has been an improver rejoinder to the charge sheet.
Asked by Gabanagae how long it will take them to engage legal representatives, one of the accused persons, Mompati Mmenyane left the court in stitches when he said “I need at least three months.”
In response the Magistrate told him that such period was unreasonable as he had known about the charges preferred against him since February this year to which Mmenyane replied that “I need to raise funds.”
For his part, Mogorosi Ramotsei (69) told the court that he was at loss as to why he was in court.
“Even at the time when I was served with the papers, I couldn’t make head or tail of what this whole thing. Why should I engage an attorney when I have done nothing wrong?”
Ramotsei who was visibly losing his cool added: “I want to come face to face with the person who served me with the papers on that day so that he can explain to me why I’m in this court.”
Gabanagae ruled that the newly accused persons be given a month to engage legal representatives. The court will hear the application for separation of trial on Tuesday.