The protracted restlessness in the communities of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Greater Moruleng reached a new level as community members set up a protest camp in front of the tribal authority from Tuesday.
The protesters are calling for their traditional leader, Chief Nyalala Pilane, to step down.
It’s a call the Bakgatla community have made intermittently in the past decade.
Once again the grievances are the alleged corruption and maladministration of tribal interests and resources by the chief and his tribal authority.
This time, however, the subjects have added dissatisfaction with the traditional council, which they say is “illegal”.
“The so-called council is operating illegally because their term expired in 2010. We will camp outside these offices day and night until the premier comes here because she knows our predicament,” one of the protesters, Tshepiso Thebyane, said. “All we want is for the council to leave our premises and for a new council to be elected.”
Bakgatla-ba-Pilane royal family member Segale Pilane blamed the provincial department of local government and traditional affairs for the unrest.
“The department of local and traditional affairs wrote a circular in 2010 about the expired term and said the election process would follow but so far nothing has happened,” Pilane said.
“It was the duty of the department to remove the tribal council whose term had expired, instead they have left us in limbo.”
Segale Pilane also said he felt Chief Pilane had not engaged the community enough.
Tribal authority spokesperson Kebone Mosetle said the protesting “group of youth” outside offices did not have a mandate to represent nor speak on behalf of the tribe.
“No memorandum has officially been presented to the administration and it is very difficult to pinpoint what the issues are. It is the usual ranting about corruption, recruitment at the (local) mines and the expired term of office for the traditional council,” Mosetle said.
The spokesperson for local government and traditional affairs, Dineo Lolokwane, said elections for all traditional councils in the province would take place in the near future and “finally put the matter to rest”.