Royal battle rages on between Kgoshi Malepe and Kgoshi Mametja

Royal battle rages on between Kgoshi Malepe and Kgoshi Mametja

A royal battle of unprecedented proportions is raging on between Kgoshi Malepe and Kgoshi Mametja over the legitimacy of kingship of the several tribes in the Maruleng area. This battle has been long in the making given the history of the conflict between the two royal authorities. It has now reached a point of no return and the subjects are the sufferers. This ongoing feud which has been stalling development for a long time needs some progressive wisdom to ensure that it is amicably resolved.

Depending on who do you ask this conflict started a long time ago with the arrival of the Bakone Ba Mametja in the Sedawa area under Kgoshi Malepe in the late 1800s. It is explained that when Kgoshi Mametja arrived in the area Kgoshi Malepe had already settled there and his tribal authority legitimately recognized. It is said that Kgoshi Mametja arrived, pleaded with Kgoshi Malepe for a portion of land to settle with his own tribe. Kgoshi Malepe then agreed and gave Kgoshi Mametja a stretch of land and the matter was resolved as such and regarded as a courtesy on the part of the giver.

It is alleged that along the way relations soured between the two royal authorities. It is said that this happened the moment Kgoshi Malepe discovered that Kgoshi Mametja has been transferring his subjects under his authority at the Magistrate offices in Leydsdorp. They allege that this happened because Kgoshi Malepe did not have transport and therefore relied on Kgoshi Mametja to submit his tribal levies at the magistrate offices. A reliable mode of transport at the time was horses which Kgoshi Mametja had.

Upon discovery of the betrayal Kgoshi Malepe found himself in a precarious position because Kgoshi Mametja succeeded in duping the magisterial authority to believe that Kgoshi Malepe consented to the transference of his subjects and therefore the matter was officially closed as such. This was easy because the colonial and apartheid governments used divisions between traditional leaders to buttress their authorities. They would always side with a traditional leader of their own liking and choosing. This practice deepened the fragmentation of traditional leaderships and caused wars between the tribes.

Overtime the conflict escalated to levels which made Kgoshi Mametja to become very antagonistic towards Kgoshi Malepe. As a result Kgoshi Malepe was reduced to a mere Induna albeit the fact that he was still respected by his own subjects. Kgoshi Malepe was a true traditional leader in the sense that he continued to perform the various rituals associated with the role of a king. Along the way Kgoshi Mametja even married a daughter of the Batlokwa Ba Malepe and this lessened tensions to some extent albeit temporarily.

In the mist of this conflict another one simmered beneath that involved Kgoshi Mokgotho who occupied a territory called Molapong within the same area of Sedawa. The arrogance or rather power of Kgoshi Mametja displayed itself around this time when he unceremoniously removed Kgoshi Mokgotho and his tribe. They were harassed and intimidated to a point that they fled to settle at an area called Turkey 1 & 2 popularly referred to as Ntswelemotse. The only old man who defied this removal order was Mokgalabje Mmarakeng Tshehla. This old man loved his place and he was a renowned subsistent farmer, lived a good life and took most of his children to tertiary education. He remained in the area for several years until his death. His wife is still living in the area and has also defied lots of advice and alluring to relocate including from her own children.

At the time of the removals Kgoshi Mametja had an unlimited support from the Lebowa Bantustan government. It was a glaring account of Africans displacing Africans with an approval from an African led government. It was so disturbing to observe these peaceful people relocating from an area that they have called home for so many years. This was divide and rule at its ugliest best and relations were also compromised as a result of this callous practice. For a moment Kgoshi Mametja regarded this episode as the last and the new developments facilitated by Kgoshi Malepe in reclaiming his territory is a setback he never expected. Instead of building bridges Kgoshi Mametja continued to display his arrogance and now the chickens have come home to roost. This epic battle will obviously rage on until an amicable solution is found given the tenacity of the Malepe’s to claim what rightfully belongs to them.

Similarly, this battle comes at a time that the Mametja kingship is itself embroiled in a fierce internal conflagration over issues of legitimacy. They have been trying to extinguish their internal fires for a long time without success. The tribal authority itself has accelerated the arrogance and the subjects are these days treated with disdain. Theirs is like a sinking ship and Kgoshi Malepe looks optimistic about a successful reclaiming of his rightful place.

And then enters Ditau Tsa Mogofe another clan that claim a portion of the same Sedawa as theirs. Land dispossession still wracks havoc to the life of an African and that is the reason almost four tribes are battling over one piece of land. The royal battle between Kgoshi Malepe and Kgoshi Mametja is the mother of the other two smaller tribes. The Ditau Tsa Mogofe in claiming a portion of Sedawa makes the conflict a very interesting one in that they and the Ba-Mokgotho will obviously side with Kgoshi Malepe since they have been living together in harmony.

The above scenario serves to interdict the democratic government in that it has also failed to provide leadership in order to bring about a lasting solution to these conflicts. It is also an illustration that blacks in South Africa were highly compromised by the negotiations that culminated in the watershed democratic elections in 1994. The period determined by the negotiations is virtually inadequate for a proper land redistribution. It is therefore imperative for the democratic government to revisit these concessions in order to establish debates that will bear the real fruits of freedom in terms of land redistribution. For if the land question remains as unresolved as it is now it will collapse the nation building project something that will obviously shake the security of the country.

It is indeed a travesty of justice that most of the traditional leaders are still battling over these small portions of land as allocated by the 1913 Land Act. More needs to be done to ensure that land is fairly redistributed to its rightful owners. That a minority in the country still own vast tracts of land at the disadvantage of black people is a throwback that should be corrected. The constitutional prescripts that address the question of land reform and redistribution needs to be revisited and a thorough and progressive debate established in order to find a lasting solution.

The battle between Kgoshi Malepe and Kgoshi Mametja requires a decisive leadership from the two in order to find a solution. The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa should also get involved and provide the necessary wisdom to ensure that the warring parties smoke a peace pipe. This can only be achieved if a fair and congenial assessment of the historical records both written and oral are employed as tools in dealing with the matter. This conflict can never be wished away nor brushed aside by whoever deems it necessary to supply a short term solution. Land will forever be a contested terrain and therefore requires a permanent and lasting redress. In modernizing the institution of traditional leadership the democratic government should play a pivotal role by providing training to these leaders and their indunas.

Unresolved differences within and between kingships should be treated properly in order to find permanent solutions. It should not end at the setting up of commissions and the releasing of their reports in a manner that keeps the conflicts unresolved as it is the case now. This conflicts are stalling the much needed development in the rural areas of the country. For instance in the Mametja area the staging of a very lucrative foreign film was stalled because of internal problems in the traditional authority. Secondly, in the Maruleng municipal jurisdiction there is no shopping complex and the root cause of this deficit is as a result of conflicts between the Magoshis. This anomaly can only be unlocked if the democratic government can facilitate for the resolution of these conflicts and for the traditional leaders to understand that the welfare of their subjects is as important as theirs.

Goldrick Mafologela
015 0040 430
Politics & Governance

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  1. It took a very long time for this matter to be so heightened and it is now up to the two main players to find each other in the interest of peace, stability and development. The communities deserve better tribal arrangement for the smooth running of their developmental aspirations and only a legitimate and caring authority can serve them properly.

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