Semantlana Mighty Makgatlha, land rights fighter gone too soon

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Bafokeng communities are mourning yet again, this time the passing of ‘Mighty’ Semantlana Vincent Makgatlha, a gallant heritage activist, a sharp historian, a lover of his people.

It was Semantlana back in 2006 after the 29 July Bafokeng Kgotha-kgothe meeting who convened a meeting of the Makgatlha Family at Luka to consider reopening the Klipfontein 300JQ (Bleskop Photsaneng) land claim.

Hardly two years later in June 2008 the claim was gazetted as valid and a process of verifying who the rightful beneficiaries of Photsaneng land were, was initiated by the Land Claims Commission.

Anglo Platinum owned two of the claimed farms and was ready to hand them back when the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN) intervened claiming that the portions of land Anglo intended to transfer back to the community should instead be transferred to them, RBN.

In a meeting with the Department of Land Affairs to consider Anglo’s commercial rights on the land, Semantlana was steadfast that royalties should flow to the Photsaneng community. Present also in the meeting was the late Durke Gulfillan, Louise Du Plessis, Thusi Rapoo,  the late Rudolph Jansen, and the late Ben Huma.

Unfortunately, RBN overtook the claim and rushed to the Mafikeng High Court to lay claim to some 61 farms around Rustenburg, including Klipfontein 300JQ. Had it not been for this unholy intervention by RBN, Photsaneng would be enjoying the rights on land, including the mining royalties. And many other Bafokeng communities would have followed suit with their claims.

The Mafikeng case continues, and the Bafokeng communities are upbeat they shall celebrate victory judgment come Human Rights Day, 21 March 2018.

Bra Mighty, as he was affectionately known shall be laid to rest at Bleskop Photsaneng on the 13 January 2018.

May his fighting, loving spirit live on.

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