President Mokgweetsi Masisi may be using his influence to sway the decision of the Court of Appeal the government’s way, in a land dispute between Balete and the Bamalete Land board that is before the courts.
This seemed to be the daring implication this week when Balete Kgosikgolo Mosadi Seboko gave a media update on their stand-off with government over the disputed Farm Forest Hill 9-KO.
Determined to lead her people into the legal battle following the state’s decision to appeal a High Court ruling, favouring Balete as the rightful owners of the disputed piece of land, a defiant Kgosi Seboko this week revealed disturbing details of her recent meeting with President Masisi where he apparently tried to trick her into surrendering the court battle.
The land at the centre of the dispute, according to Kgosi Seboko, is a remainder of the chunk of land that Balete bought from Aron Siew in 1925 using their own funds, to address a shortage of land for grazing purposes.
The farm was then transferred to Chief Seboko Mokgosi on behalf of the tribe and since then Balete have had control over the farm, through GaMalete Development Trust, who allocated and used the land in accordance with tribal customs.
Portions of the land were, in 1970 and 1987 respectively, granted to government.
In the long story of what happened next, fast-forward to 2017, the Bamalete Land board filed an application before the High Court to seek an order, directing the Registrar to cancel the Deed of Transfer of the farm.
Three judges – Gabriel Komboni, Michael Mothobi and Mokwadi Gabanagae – dismissed the application.
The Attorney General and the Land board then appealed the case in the matter that will be heard next week Tuesday.
In a press briefing held at Ramotswa kgotla on Wednesday, Kgosi Seboko said on July 6th, 2021 Ramotswa Member of Parliament, Lefoko Moagi, called and told her that President Masisi wanted to meet with her at the state house.
She said she was also told not to come with anyone.
“Lefoko picked me at the parliamentary village to meet Masisi. The president said he wanted to tell me that he had no intentions of repossessing our farm. I told him I had received a summons from the Court of Appeal in which the Attorney General and Land board are appealing our case. He asked me if I had read the papers and said I should ask my lawyers to interpret it for me. I was ordered to switch off my phone during the meeting. He told me that the judges in our case were mischievous. He told me he had already spoken to the judges and that he knew we were going to lose the appeal and that, after the case, he would order that we be given back the land,” said Seboko.
Kgosi Seboko further revealed that after some days, attorney Basimane Bogopa representing President Masisi and Balete lawyer, Tshiamo Rantao, came to her house.
She said they told her they had been sent by the president to ask her not to pursue the case and, that after losing it, Masisi would issue an order that they be given the land.
Seboko said she was surprised that the president was interfering with the case and that he already knew the outcome.
“I was pissed! I told them to tell the president not to interfere and should allow the presiding judges to make a fair decision. I know anything can happen to me after saying this and I am ready for anything that comes. Someone told me I am likely to get suspended. I am going to write an affidavit and keep it safe in case something happens,” she added.
Following Kgosi Seboko’s much publicised address on Wednesday afternoon, the Office of the President issued a press statement saying the allegations are baseless, misleading and devoid of the truth.
The statement also indicated that President Masisi has a strong commitment to respect the independence of the judiciary as enshrined in the constitution of Botswana.