High Court dethrones Ga-Seleka acting chief

  • by African Times
  • 9 Months ago
  • 0

Premier to withdraw certificate of recognition.

RUSSEL MOLEFE

LIMPOPO premier, Stan Mathabatha, has been ordered by the Polokwane High Court to withdraw the certificate of recognition issued to Ga-Seleka acting senior traditional leader Phetogo David Seleka, and make it public in the provincial government gazette.

Though the court order was granted on 8 February 2018 in a case numbered 2507/2016, the premier’ spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, told African Times: “Currently there is no court order to comply with. The Premier will comply when the court order is received.”

Mathabatha, the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders and Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs were cited as the first, second and third respondents respectively in a matter brought by the Seleka Royal Family and Seleka Sa Motlhasedi Royal Council.

The acting chief, Phetogo David Seleka, was the fourth respondent who solely defended the action because the other respondents, as the court observed, “did not strenuously contest the action as they probably have no direct and substantial interest in the dispute.”

The matter was first launched in 2014 in the Pretoria High Court but transferred to the Polokwane High Court. It was postponed several times at the instance of Seleka and his different legal representatives since 2016.

When the matter was heard, Tebogo Dorcas Seleka submitted that a petition was forwarded to the Premier in 2014 for the removal of the acting chief. However, this was not acted upon despite the Premier’s letter of receipt addressed to GP Seleka dated 23 May 2014.

She also told the court that one of the reasons for the application to remove the acting chief was that he refused to marry a candle wife, thereby undermining the authority of the royal family, and customs and traditions, and bringing the chieftaincy into disrepute.

After her evidence, the matter was again postponed to 23 January 2017 but could not be heard because the acting chief played ill, and the Premier, the House of Traditional Leaders and the Department introduced a new counsel for the first time. The matter was postponed to 4 April 2017 but could not be heard until 22 December 2017.

However, the counsel for the Premier, the House of Traditional Leaders and the Department failed to show up despite a proper notice served. The acting chief also sought another postponement on the basis that his attorneys of record have withdrawn their services.

But the court denied his application and instead directed him to listen attentively to the evidence and cross-examine the witnesses and present his own version. Halfway through the evidence of the witnesses, the acting chief stormed out of the court without leave.

The witnesses, Dipuo Joseph Seleka, who is the acting chief’s uncle from the paternal side, Madidimala Thousand Seleka, Boedile Godfrey Seleka painted the acting chief as a violent person as he had attacked them either on the street or at tribal council meetings. Captain Mathetja Jacobeth Rakobela also gave evidence about a case against the acting chief which was later withdrawn.

The witnesses also gave reasons why the acting chief should be removed which include;

  • The Royal Family had a dispute with acting chief over mining issues which was also discussed at a community hall.
  • The acting chief was un-cooperative, undermined the Royal Family and has no respect for its authority
  • The acting chief has since deserted the royal kraal and has nominated his friends who are non-members of the Royal Family to co-manage the tribal council’s affairs.

In his judgement, Judge MG Phatudi referred to Section 13 (1) of the Limpopo Traditional Leadership and Institutions Act which speaks in part of a transgression of a customary rule or principle that warrants removal, and persistent negligence or indolence in the performance of the functions of the acting chief’s office.

Phatudi stated: “No decision despite a lengthy effluxion of time since the notice of removal alluded to, has been taken by the first respondent [the Premier] and no reasons were advanced for the inaction.

“In matters of this nature, it is generally accepted that the plaintiff bears the onus to found its evidence on a balance of probabilities. Prominent is the general misconduct of the fourth respondent [the acting chief] as contained in the petition filed.

“The totality of the evidence as it were, particular transgressions he allegedly committed, failure or refusal by him to marry a candle wife, when appointed a “seed-raiser” is, in my view, no more than a “traggression of a customary rule or principle” that warrants his removal within the meaning of section 13 (1) of the Act.

“Furthermore, the fact that he deserted the royal kraal and rendered the traditional council dysfunctional through his recalcitrant behaviour, plunged the plaintiff’s administration into disarray. If failure to attend ordinary “kgoro” meetings, when notified to do so does not constitute “negligence or Indolence” in the performance of his duties as acting chief (kgosi) the he ought to be pardoned, if necessary for his conduct, so to speak.”

Phatudi then ordered the Premier to withdraw the certificate of recognition and the acting chief to pay the costs. The acting chief was also interdicted from assaulting or committing threats of assault and to return to the Royal Family all books of account, financial records, cheque books and similar legal instruments in his possession.

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