Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng made an urgent visit to the Chaneng community council (lekgotla) on the 04thFebruary 2012, after a four year absence. The Community came in numbers hoping to hear for themselves what the meeting was about.
As the meeting started, a member requested the agenda of the meeting as ‘no one knew what the meeting was all about’. Instead of responding to the question, the chairperson insisted rather that the community raise their concerns. When issues were raised, the Chairperson started interrupting the speakers, forcing them to speak his way. The community got out of control, expressing their dissatisfaction.
Leruo was guarded by his heavily armed security company. He also brought with him his photographers, who were up and about taking (video) pictures. The intimidating security also refused the Community to use their cell phones to take (video) pictures. The Community was unsettled and afraid to talk. Smelling a rat, the elders warned the youth for restrain, concerned that their children would again be arrested.
The Community was disturbed by the headman’s wife (Mmakgosana), who opened a case against the Secretary of lekgotla. The Secretary was detained at midnight by the police, who were accompanied by Mmakgosana. She (the Secretary) left her critically ill husband behind with the kids, to spend a night in jail.
Mmakgosana had falsely accused the Secretary, claiming that the Secretary had forged her husband’s (the headman’s) signature. Lekgotla sought legal representation for the Secretary, and accused Mmakgosana for not following proper procedure. Lekgotla insisted that, in terms of lekgotla custom, Mmakgosana should have brought the matter to lekgotla before opening a case at the police station.
Taking his stand, Leruo told the community that “le bua ditlontlokwane”, meaning the community was talking rubbish. Adjourning, the community left the meeting deeply humiliated by Leruo’s words.
‘This is why we are against the proposed Traditional Courts Act which says the chief, or his nominee, must be the judge at the tribal court. How can a chief who does not care about, or who does not know how to talk to his people be a judge at the tribal Court? I won’t be surprised if he appoints his mother to be a tribal judge!’ cautioned March Motene, a local community activist.