Disgruntled Gabane residents are fuming over what they view as betrayal by the Kweneng landboard in the acquisition of their fields.
Many years after Mogoditshane Sub-Landboard acquired their fields and compensating them with plots, the authorities appear to have reneged on the agreement and residents have been told the exercise was unlawful.
The residents say they had no reason not to believe the Sub Landboard’s Compensation-in-Kind model that prescribed that field owners be compensated with six plots or more depending on the size of their fields. Some of them have since sold the plots to strangers, while others allocated their children to build houses.
Chairman of the Kweneng Landboard, Ontlametse Kgang, however, says after getting legal advise, they have taken a position that the resolution was unlawful.
“We are just rescinding the resolution because it was unlawful and Mogoditshane sub Landboard has no authority to acquire land or implement that resolution. We are consulting with the affected people, including local authorities on the way forward,” said Kgang in an interview with The Voice.
The land acquisition process in Gabane commenced in 2004, affecting around 42 fields totaling 380 hectares at Diremogolo and Nkoyaphiri lands that stretch between Gabane, Mogoditshane, and Metsimotlhabe villages.
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At a kgotla meeting last weekend, chairman of a special committee handling the matter, former MP for Gabane-Mmankgodi constituency Major General (Rt) Pius Mokgware said the Ministry of Lands took a resolution in 2015 for Mogoditshane Sub Landboard to acquire masimo and compensate owners, after it observed that Kweneng Landboard was moving at a very slow pace.
The Kweneng Main landboard was informed of this resolution and gave the Mogoditshane sub Landboard the green light, he said.
According to Mokgware, it was agreed to adopt the Compensation-in-Kind model- that those with minimum four hectares’ fields were to be compensated with six residential plots or one commercial plot and two residential plots. For fields of Four to Nine hectares, the owners were to get 10 residential plots, or one commercial plot, plus four residential plots.
“There is no way Mogoditshane sub landboard can be accused of any wrongdoing. All the evidence is available, that the resolution was taken by the ministry, which then informed the Kweneng Main landboard who then delegated Mogoditshane sub to implement it. It is possible Kgang was not fully briefed on this resolution when he got the position,” he said.
However, Kgang says residents of Metsimotlhabe, Tloaneng, Mogoditshane, Mmokolodi, and Mmopane have agreed to the rescinding of the resolution, while it is only Gabane residents who are resisting.
“The law is clear, and it should be followed. The Compensation in Kind model is unlawful, and also not feasible and our position is whether the plots were lawfully taken or not. We are waiting for Gabane residents to write to us on their position” he said.
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Kgang added that Kweneng Main Landboard has taken a position that any land transfers that relied on the Mogoditshane Sub-Landboard resolution were unlawful and should be reversed.
On allegations of compensation discrepancies in favour of foreigners and rich people, he said the problem emanated from Batswana having ceded their ownership to foreigners.
“Many plots around Mogoditshane, including some fields around Gabane have been transferred to foreigners yet the certificates reflect the names of Batswana. When you go to inquire, you find some of them owing commercial institutions large sums of money,” Kgang said.
The residents have two options; petitioning the minister or going to court within the shortest time possible.