A bloody brawl in the remote village of Mababe has ended before Maun Main Kgotla, with the beaten men accusing their Kgosi of fuelling the tension that led to their hiding.
In a complex, deep-routed saga, amid claims of poaching, traditional doctors and social media taunts, Mababe tribal leader, Kgosikemontle Kebuelemang was accused of tearing his community apart.
The aggrieved duo, Kago Collen Obiditswe and Godfrey Pekenene, accompanied by a number of village elders, insist their Chief is to blame for their recent thrashing at the hands of five men.
“We were driving to the river to catch fish. On the way we met our fellow village men and we stopped to greet them. The older one, named Baruti, told me to stop celebrating when our tribal leader is in trouble,” explained Obiditswe, 31, adding he ‘clicked his tongue’ in response and drove off.
“However, the men sped past and blocked our way. It appears they came prepared for a fight because as soon as they stopped they went to the back of their twin cab bakkie and grabbed weapons. One of the men poked me on the chest and asked me why I clicked a tongue towards Baruti even though he is older.”
According to Obiditswe a scuffle broke out, with the five quickly overpowering the two.
He continued that after villagers came to break up the fight, when everything appeared calm, Baruti hit him on the head ‘with something heavy’ causing a deep cut.
“I was taken to Letsholathebe hospital where the wound was stitched.”
Obiditswe further contended during the attack, his assailants referenced a recent social media post he had made regarding the arrest of their village Chief.
Last month, deputy sheriffs apprehended Kgosi Kebuelemang over an old debt of a motor vehicle.
“I stated that prison was for everyone,” explained Obiditswe, who is convinced this was the motive behind his beating.
However, in a follow-up interview with The Voice, Kebuelemang said he has since cleared both the debt and legal fees.
Dismissing Obiditswe’s story as rubbish, the fired-up royal maintained he had nothing to do with the brawl.
“This is just a witch-hunt. Why would I ask anyone to beat them, what for? They are trying to overshadow their poaching case and use me as a scapegoat.”
The Kgosi believes Obiditswe and his allies are trying to taint his name after he refused to give them money last August.
“They wanted the cash to pay a traditional herbalist after falling foul of the law,” stated Kebuelemang.
Obiditswe, a former employee the village’s Development Trust and three other men, including Pekenene, were arrested last year after reportedly being found in possession of elephant tusks.
The matter is still before Maun Magistrates Court.
“I was not able to help them and I think that is why they turned against me. My suspicion is that those with money and close to the Trust have given them the money and are now trying to mudsling so that I look like the bad guy. This issue has a lot to do with the elephant quota than anything else,” insisted Kebuelemang.
Countering his Chief’s claims, Obiditswe then hit back in a separate interview, “We went to Kgosi seeking his advice as a village leader, but we never asked him for money. He knows we don’t believe in witch doctors!”
As for the issue of elephants, Obiditswe responded, “By the way that was not the first time they attacked me. Recently Baruti verbally attacked me on social media when I posted about the hunting of elephants in celebration of the return of African Field Sports to Mababe. He called me a fool and used other derogatory terms in his onslaught.”
In 2019, Mababe/Zokootshama Community Development Trust signed a multi million Pula hunting agreement with local safari company, African Field Sport.
The deal included trophy hunting of 20 elephants, the largest hunting quota issued in the country at the time.
The arrangement divided the village. Some rallied behind the Trust, while others, including Kgosi Kebuelemang felt they were being ripped off by the agreement and instead demanded an auction of the hunting quota.