A dead man in limbo

Portia Mlilo
TORMENTED: Lesiame Pitseng has shed many tears in the last 11 months
  • CKGR burial appeal postponed till further notice

11 months after he passed away, Gaoberekwe Pitseng’s body remains in a Ghanzi mortuary as the legal fight to determine his final resting place rumbles on.

The drawn-out matter hit another stumbling block on Wednesday, when the Court of Appeal (CoA) postponed the case as one of the Judges on the panel was unavailable. A new date will be communicated in due course.

Born in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), where he spent most of his long life, Pitseng, a proud Mosarwa man, breathed his last on Christmas-Eve last year.

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Although the old man had been residing in New Xade since 2014 due to ill health, his family planned to return his body to their ancestral home for burial beside his father’s grave, as per his wishes. And that’s when the trouble started!

The Director of Wildlife and National Parks ruled this would not be possible; in turn, in a move that made front page news, Pitseng’s children refused to collect his corpse.

Instead, the family, led by the deceased’s son, Lesiame Pitseng, opened a case against the state at Gaborone High Court.

It ended in more heartache. In May, Judge Itumeleng Segopolo ruled against the family, rejecting the application and ordering them to bury the deceased in 10 days. He warned failure to do so and the main applicant, Lesiame, would be jailed for 30 days.

When dismissing the case, Justice Segopolo said while the record states the deceased was born, raised and aged at CKGR, it also indicates that at the time of his death, he was a resident of New Xade, where he had been allocated a plot and had a house built for him by Ghanzi Council. Thus, Segopolo ruled the deceased should be buried there.

Family attorney, Nelson Ramaotwana immediately filed an appeal.

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The lawyer insisted it was clear Pitseng was one of the people who were litigating against the government when the Basarwa were removed from CKGR.

Ramaotwana had previously explained the old man’s move to New Xade was meant to be temporary, arguing Pitseng only agreed to the relocation to be closer to medical facilitates as he had suffered a prolonged illness.

Once his health recovered, he had fully intended on returning to the CKGR, argued Ramaotwana.

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