The Bakhwee uprising

Kabelo Dipholo
ATTENTIVE: Bakhwee at a kgotla meeting

A delegation from Ngwato Landboard led by its Chairman, David Modisagape, walked into a land mine field last Monday morning, where they found a fuming group of Basarwa in an uncompromising mood.

Bakhwee(Basarwa) of Buuhe ward in the diamond mining town of Letlhakane/Zowa are accusing the Letlhakane Landboard of using tribal discrimination to systematically deny them land in Boteti.

At a packed and explosive Kgotla meeting on Thursday, Kgosi Alfred Petelelo skillfully laid the foundation for the dialogue in his welcome remarks.

Petelelo told Modisagape and his team that although the ward was officially recognised in 2006, ridding itself of the ‘Maipaahela’ (squatter camp) tag, many people are still waiting to have their plots officially registered.

“Some were given numbers, but the plots are yet to be registered with the Landboard,” cried Petelelo.

This he said has made it difficult for his tribe to access services enjoyed by the rest of the Letlhakane residents.

- Advertisement -

“You can’t even connect water if your plot is not properly registered,” he said.

Buuhe is occupied by over 4000 Bakhwee who relocated to make way for Orapa and Damtshaa mines in the 70s.

Residents, led by the advocacy group, Botswana Khweedom Council (BKC) are threatening to seek legal recourse both locally and internationally, to challenge their forced relocation from what they deem as ancestral land.

Despite the area gazetted by the Ministry of Local government, Bakhwee still face forced evictions as recently the Letlhakane Sub-Landboard allocated plots already occupied by residents of Buuhe.

This was condemned by the Boteti Region Chairperson-Botswana Council of Churches Boitshwarelo Dennis Mopedi, who called on Ngwato Landboard to intervene and solve what he termed a social crisis.

“These people have been waiting to have plots and be issued with certificates from as far back as 1997, and to this day nothing is happening. Without these certificates they’ve no legal ownership of their pieces of land,” said Mopedi.

- Advertisement -

Addressing the visibly agitated gathering, Modisagape admitted that it took too long to resolve the issues of land in Buuhe.

He said through President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s directive, land boards have been given a target of 100,000 plots this year, of which Ngwato Landboard will allocate 22,000.

“Allocation of land prioritise who needs it more, like the marginalised groups, the old, youth, disabled and the vulnerable,” Modisagape said.

“I know your concerns, and I admit that we took too long,” was Modisagape’s humble admission.

The Bakhwee uprising
LEADING THE CHARGE: BKC Spokesperson Banyatsi Salutu

This was however dismissed by the BKC Spokesperson Banyatsi Salutu who accused the landboard of deliberately discriminating against Bakhwee.

Salutu said even in the recent allocations as per President Masisi’s directive, not a single of their kin was allocated a plot.

- Advertisement -

“There were 896 plots allocated in Letlhakane, and not a single person from Bakhwee was given a plot,'” said

Salutu who went on to explain that even for the 46 plots reserved for people living with disabilities, Bakhwee were excluded.

“Landboard officials arrived here on 18th November to allocate plots already occupied by our people. Families were evicted from their homes as officers erected pegs for strangers,” he said.

Salutu said during this forced eviction, an old man collapsed and died after his plot was allocated to another person.

“We want landboard to reverse this decision. We’ve long applied for ploughing farms, but were told the land was not for farming, today the same land is being allocated to elite members of the society for integrated farming and feed lots.”

“This is our motherland, we don’t have anywhere else. This is discrimination,” charged Salutu.

His colleague at BKC, Moithati Gabosekwe responsible for Chieftainship issues shared the same sentiments.

Frosting at the mouth and eyeballing the Landboard delegation, Gabosekwe said Zowa (pronounced Zwaa) is Bakhwee’s homeland.

“This area is not Letlhakane, its Zowa and these people deserve to have plots here,” he said.

Gabosekwe warned that they’ll not rest until they get what is rightfully theirs.

“What have we done, to deserve this treatment,” was Gabosekwe’s impassioned parting short.

The Bakhwee uprising
NOT IMPRESSED: Gabosekwe facing addressing Landboard officials

Share This Article
Leave a comment