Royal Bafokeng Nation covert legal strategies to wrestle control over claimed communal land

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Bafokeng communities hold strong views that the Royal Bafokeng Nation (‘ RBN’) is engaging covert legal strategies to quash their ill-conceived Case 999/08 at the North West High Court, Mafikeng.

On the 08th September 2017, the appeal hearing launched by the Bafokeng Land Buyers’ Association (‘BLBA’) against judgment and order of Landman J was postponed to the 08th December 2017, buying RBN more time to file their late opposing heads of argument.

The communities view the postponement as mere delaying tactic by the RBN to allow them time to continue their underhand strategy to render the issues raised by communities in that case moot. The RBN has failed to answer the issues in that case and now wants ‘a second bite at the cherry’.

One such issue which RBN failed to answer in that case, and which RBN now seeks to dispose in a parallel legal process relates to the question of who really has the power in terms of Bafokeng traditions and customs to allocate residential stands to members of the community. The communities contend that it is them who are the real owners of the land on which they are settled; that it is them, not the RBN, that bought the land; and on that basis further, that it is them through village councils, not the RBN, who have always exercised powers to allocate land to their constituent members.

In Case M420/16 initiated by RBN at the same court, the RBN evicted Tsitsing community members from residential stands duly allocated to them by their village council. Judge President Leeuw, despite finding during trial hearing that RBN was at fault and without legal basis to evict community members, shockingly held otherwise in her subsequent judgment and ordered the community members to pay legal costs. Her judgment suggest that village councils do not have powers to allocate residential stands. She finds in this case that Tsitsing community does not have a recognised village council. Tsitsing community finds the judgment appalling and has since lodged an appeal.

It has come to the attention of BLBA that RBN hatched a clandestine proposal to the Rustenburg Local Municipality to the effect the RLM should delegate some of its statutory powers to the RBN. RBN seek authorisation to collect fees for services rendered within the Bafokeng communities.

For various reasons, Bafokeng communities are opposed to such authorisation. Communities claim in their case 999/08 that RBN is unaccountable and corrupt. Communities claim that any negotiations affecting them and their ancestral land should be done directly with them and not through the despotic RBN.

BLBA intends to petition the RLM to put halt to RBN proposal until such time that issues in case 999/08 are resolved; or until a temporary land administration arrangement with affected claimant communities is put in place pending finalisation of the case.

See Notice of Application for Leave to Appeal – M420-16 – Tsitsing Community v RBN

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