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Court stops Bakhurutshe chief’s burial in a kraal

Kabelo Dipholo

GRAVE CONCERN

Angry Bakhurutshe of Tonota have condemned government’s decision to stop the burial of their late leader, Kgosi Ramosinyi Radipitse in a kraal as per their traditions.

Hundreds of mourners were shocked last Saturday when a last minute court order stopped the burial of Radipitse next to his father’s grave in Mooebatsi ward.

This is despite the fact that the previous night (11th August) the royal family had unanimously agreed Kgosi Radipitse be given a royal burial in his father’s kraal.

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In an interview with The Voice, a royal uncle, who did not want to be named, said the whole debacle came as a complete shock to them.

“The grave had already been dug when we learnt about the court order stopping the kraal burial,” he said.

“The reasons advanced don’t make sense at all, because in Tlokweng for instance people still bury their dead in their backyard,” added the un-amused royal.

He further pointed out that the practice of burying chiefs in kraals is synonymous with royalty and was common in the past as it had a symbolic meaning.

“The kraal was seen as a sacred place and by burying the chief there, it was believed that his spirit would continue to watch over and protect the community. In some cases, this kraal would even become a place of pilgrimage, where people would come and pay their respects and ask for the chief’s guidance,” he explained.

The late announcement on the change of burial site from the kraal to John Phokoo cemetery attracted loud murmurs from mourners who had braved the cold morning chill to bid their departed traditional leader farewell.

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A JCB was immediately hired to dig a new grave for the Bakhurutshe royal.

A Tonota resident, Samodimo Makhendla said she would not be surprised if the move was political.

“Everything is political these days. This really touched us, and if this is how the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wants to interfere with our lives then we have to get rid of them. We’ve been disrespected as Bakhurutshe,” insisted Makhendla.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse, whose ministry’s portfolio covers traditional institutions, was one of the high profile government officials at the funeral.

Recently, the government has been discouraging citizens from burying their loved ones in residential areas. The practice, according to the Ministry of Health, could contribute to the spread of diseases particularly with breakouts of highly contagious viruses like Covid-19, which calls for proper burial procedures.

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