* ‘You can’t marry a dead man’
* Former DPP Director, Sechele’s children rubbish marriage claims
A customary law widow is in the middle of an estate dispute as well as the validity of her marriage to late former Director of Public Prosecutions, Leonard Sechele.
The former DPP director, must be turning in his grave as his death in September last year has pitted his uncles and children against his customary law wife in a fight over his estate.
Sechele’s children from a previous marriage together with at least eight family members have turned their backs against Sechele’s widow, Poppy Sechele, nee Moribame and labeled her a ‘gold digger who has brought them nothing but shame, disgust and humiliation during their time of grief.
The tribesman, who did not leave any will, passed away after a long illness. He was buried on September 12th in Gweta village amid dramatic scenes with some uncles refusing to recognize Poppy as the surviving spouse.
Falling short of calling her a marriage wrecker, the disgruntled family members accused Poppy of manipulating the funeral programme to dedicate two pages to a eulogy that contradicted and embarrassed not only Sechele’s family but Poppy as well.
“She stated facts such as being involved with the deceased in 2010/11, which is the time the deceased was married and still living with his then wife,” the family said in a statement.
The disgruntled family’s major gripe however seems to be the way Poppy managed to “fraudulently” obtain a customary law marriage certificate from Bamangwato Tribal Administration in Serowe after Sechele’s death.
In a written affidavit signed by eight family members at Gweta customary court, the family has disapproved of what they called a posthumous marriage.
Sechele’s eldest son, Ntangi Sechele, 25, who is challenging his late father’s marriage to Poppy, says the marriage certificate was fraudulently obtained, as she wanted to have control of his father’s estate.
“If at all she loved my father so much that she wanted to marry him even in death, why didn’t she wait for his estate to be distributed first to prove that she was not after the estate?” he wondered.
“That woman took advantage of my father when he was terminally ill and mentally incapacitated and arranged for her customary marriage. My father was never part of the ceremony as he was hospitalized,” he added.
Ntangi says two days after Sechele’s burial, Poppy, along with the deceased’s elder brother, Keiphang Sechele, her father Nathaniel Moribame and relatives Banyatsi Jacob and Nthathang Sechele made efforts to have Poppy married to the deceased.
“These efforts were made in secret as not even the deceased’s uncles or children of wedlock were informed. An attempt was made to change Poppy’s surname to Sechele at the Gweta customary court, but the chief refused and told them it was unheard of as the deceased needed to be present for that to happen,” he said.
Poppy was said to have then approached the Nata District Commissioner’s office and other customary courts in the Nata/Gweta area without any success.
“They then resolved to travel to the Bangwato main Kgotla in Serowe where they became successful as a certificate was issued on the 22nd September, 18 days after my father’s passing,” he said.
For her part, Poppy said her marriage to Sechele was long solemnized before his death and that all she did was obtain a marriage certificate after his death, to complete the marriage process.
She says she has gone through an emotional turmoil during her time of grief trying to deal with the hostile section of the family.
“I have no idea why Ntangi is doing all this. I stayed with him when my husband was still alive and treated him as my own child. It’s not up to him to approve or disapprove of his father’s marriage. There are relevant people and offices for that,” she said.
Poppy said she was married to Sechele under customary law and that Ntangi had been part of the wedding arrangement before he turned against her.
“Unfortunately my husband got terminally ill in August and we couldn’t conduct the civil marriage,” she said and added that at some point the police summoned her as she was accused of falsifying her marriage certificate.
“I explained everything to them and that even before the court I’m recognized as the surviving spouse,” she said.
Poppy who is jointly in charge of the disputed estate with Sechele’s cousin says in the absence of a will she had to undergo a process in court where they were both nominated to take care of the estate.