Judge steps down in explosive Bangwato court battle

Cathrine Moemedi
SEEKING JUSTICE: Khama, SIDELINED: Seretse Peter Khama (L-R)

In a sensational development, Justice Bugalo Maripe has recused himself from a high-stakes case involving former President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama and his cousin, Seretse Peter Khama.

The Khamas have taken the government to court over its refusal to recognize Seretse Peter Khama as the Regent of GaMmangwato.

In stepping down, Justice Maripe cited a personal connection to someone related by marriage to Seretse Peter Khama as the reason for his recusal.

“Having regards to the filings, it appears that the first applicant desires that the second applicant be recognized and appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The second applicant is linked in matrimony to someone I relate with. I consider it inappropriate to preside and make a determination in the matter,” said Justice Maripe.

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“I recuse myself and direct that the matter be taken back to the registrar for re-allocation,” he further ruled.

The dramatic turn of events unfolded as attorney Tapiwa Abel, representing the Khamas, noted that the matter was scheduled for roll call, and that they were instructed to set dates for the hearing.

However, Attorney Itseng Mothibamele, representing the Minister of Local Government, revealed plans to file an application to strike out some sections in their answering and founding affidavit.

The roots of the dispute trace back to a letter dated June 2, 2023, in which Seretse Khama Ian Khama informed the Director of Tribal Administration of his decision to designate Seretse Peter Khama as the new Regent of Bangwato, replacing Sediegeng Kgamane.

“You will be aware that Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane has since ceased to be Regent of GaMmangwato chieftaincy following his removal by the government. I have since consulted with my uncles on this matter as I seek to designate a new Regent to replace Kgosi Sediegeng,” reads part of the letter.

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As the legal battle rages on, the Khamas remain resolute in their quest for Peter Khama’s recognition.

The former President who now lives in eSwatini has since been declared a fugitive and with the case now awaiting reassignment to a new judge, it remains to be seen if he will finally achieve the justice he seeks.

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