Kgosikgolo Kgafela’s aunt in the battle for property with the third wife of the royal aunt’s late husband
A 51-year-old Mochudi woman is fighting royal family for property which she claims she has a right to. The property battle between the Bakgatla royals and Garate Boji Pilane, wife of the late Letsebe Keteng Pilane is far from over despite a High Court ruling that Garate should be given the property she accumulated with her late husband.
But the deceased’s first wife, who is also the aunt to Kgosikgolo Kgafela II, Tshire Pilane, insists she was the only wife, and that she did not acquire anything illegal.
Garate Pilane, the mother of four, revealed that she got married to the late Letsebe in 1993 and was his third wife.
The deceased was allegedly married three times, Tshire Pilane being the first wife, Garate the third and last. Though Garate claims there was a second wife, The Voice could not confirm that. In fact, according to the first wife Tshire Kgafela, there was never any wife other than her. Tshire is the Bakgatla’s paramount chief, Kgosikgolo Kgafela II’s aunt.
According to Garate, trouble with the royal family started when her husband died in 2003 after a short illness. She alleges that her in-laws then took control of the funeral arrangements without including her.
She fought back, stopping the funeral.
“I went to the bank to stop any transactions from my late husband’s accounts and the benefits from his work as he had just retired. My in-laws then went to the High Court to be reconciled with me so we could bury my husband,” said Garate.
She said that after the funeral, her husband’s relatives took away all the property saying it belonged to their child. In fact, the third wife alleged that her late husband’s first wife Tshire and the Pilane family chased her (Garate) from her matrimonial home. She said she later heard that Tshire was renting out the house without her consent.
“Ke nyetswe ko kgosing kele motlhanka, erile monna wame a sena go tlhokafala masika a gagwe atla go nkamoga dithoto (I was married into the royal family as a nobody so after my husband passed away his relatives came to take my property),” said pained Garate, noting that “traditionally, if you are not from the royal family you have no say when the royal family says something.”
Kgosi Mainole Komane ruled that Pheto Pilane, who was the executor, should collect the property and give it back to Garate, as she was still Pilane’s legal wife when he passed away, but this is yet to happen.
In fact, Garete’s lawyer, Thabiso Lepang of Unity Dow and Associates insisted that the first wife took away “the deceased’s cattle and sold them without his wife’s (Garate) knowledge.”
He further alleged that very senior members of the Bakgatla royal family “took some of the deceased’s property and divided” amongst themselves and “also gave away Garate’s husband’s property when she was still in hospital”.
When asked to comment on the allegations, Tshire Pilane, however, insisted that she got nothing but three cattle and a piece of field.
“I only walked away with three cows that were for my late son. I thought it was a waste of time to claim the property and besides, at that time I was working and didn’t really care. The field is now to be part of the area where there will be a Mine and I’m planning to use the money to buy tombstones for my late husband and son,” said the 77-year-old lady. In fact, Tshire Pilane is surprised by the turn of event, saying she never knew of Garate until after the property war began.
Regarding the house in dispute, the first wife explained that Pilane’s family gave it to her after his death. The house now belongs to her daughter Nkibi Batleng. According to Pheto the plot in question never belonged to Pilane but belonged to Nkomeng Sekgokong, who is also Pilane’s relative.
Sekgokong confirmed that she indeed gave Pheto Pilane the piece of land and that Pilane had erected a fence around it for protection as people were after it. She said she explained everything to Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe when he called her to resolve the issue.