Trust restored in Paleka

Kabelo Dipholo
TRIUMPHANT: New PALEKA Trust Committee

Justice Moroka rules in favour of new Trustees

Attempts by the ousted PALEKA (Pandamatenga, Lesoma, Kazungula) Trust board to interdict a newly elected committee failed when Francistown High Court Judge Lot Moroka dismissed the case with costs on Monday.

Former PALEKA Chairperson, Gabriel Musindo and eight others from the previous committee had filed an urgent application questioning the ascendancy of their replacements.

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Led by Kabozu Petros Kabozu, the new committee was elected at a Special General Meeting on 12 December 2013, to take over from the old committee which had been in power since 2018.

Following their election into office, the Master of the High Court issued letters of Appointment to all the nine committee members giving them authority to be Trustees of PALEKA Community Trust.

However, on April 4th Musindo and his team filed an urgent application seeking to restrain and interdict their successors from acting as PALEKA Trustees.

They also sought to have the Trust’s accounts frozen pending the filing of the review application.

On dealing with the issue of whether the matter was urgent, Judge Moroka said it was upon the applicant to show the imminence of harm likely to be suffered if the relief is not granted, but by also demonstrating that they approached court as soon as is reasonably possible.

Moroka said while the applicants complain about the elections of the new committee and the subsequent issuance of Letters of Authority, they never challenged the legality of the meeting and the elections.

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“The elections were held on 21st December 2023, and Letters of Authority issued on the 24th March 2024. How do the applicants account for coming to court now and not earlier,” asked Moroka.

He further dismissed their attempts to overturn the Master of the High Court’s decision through the office of the District Commissioner.

REFLECTING: The old committee with the District Commissioner outside court

“The Master’s decision is judicial, and cannot be undone through administrative intervention. Neither phone call from the Permanent Secretary, Minister or District Commissioner nor a letter can undo the decision once taken,” said Moroka before dismissing the application with costs.

In an interview outside court, Kabozu said the ruling means they can now focus on running the affairs of the Trust without hindrance and interference from the Political leadership in Chobe.

“There’re so many issues the old committee has to account for. We have over P7 million that is unaccounted for, and contracts awarded that need to be explained,” he said.

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At the heart of one of Kabozu and his team’s concerns is a five-year hunting contract between the Trust and Tlou Safari Lodge for hunting in concessions CH8 and C12.

“The contractor has not paid as per the requirement before they can start hunting. The contractor has however commenced hunting, but as the committee we’ve not received any payment from him,” revealed Kabozu.

“We’ve so much work to do, to ensure that the natural resources benefit the Chobe community,” he added.

The respondents were represented by Murupi Mbeha of Mbeha Attorneys, while the applicants were represented by Van Niekerk Attorneys.

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