Teaching grinds to a halt in battle over traditional leadership in North West
Teaching and learning ground to a halt after a violent protest erupted due to a dispute over the rightful custodian of traditional leadership in Maboloka village outside Brits, North West.
The dispute initially started when a complaint was lodged by the late Maditjeng Tsajoa, contesting the headmanship of Lehlomela Emmanuel Lion.
The North West High Court in Mahikeng on Thursday declared that Lion should be removed as a traditional leader of the Bataung ba Hlalele tribe, now known as the Maboloka tribe. This sparked the protests.
The court ruled that "the status of headmanship of the Bataung ba Hlalele should not be elevated to that of senior traditional leadership because the claim did not meet the criteria for senior traditional leadership".
The court held that the Tsajoa family was the rightful custodian of the chieftaincy.
The Commission on Traditional Disputes and Claims in 2013 concluded that John Mota Tsajoa had been removed from his position in 1978 for being against the old repressive Mangope regime.
Brian Lion, speaking as a representative of the other side, said shutting down schools in the area was one way to get government to listen to them.
"We are fighting for our rights. These people want to be chiefs because of the minerals and the power that we have. This is affecting the family badly. So they can put it how they want but it’s our chieftaincy they are messing with, our legacy,” Lion said on behalf of the family.
He said they intended protesting until they get what they want.
Ndei Tsajoa claimed that supporters of the Lion family had surrounded his home, threatening to burn it.
"Luckily the police came on time so they couldn’t do much. But we are under siege, they want us dead. The situation is really bad, it won’t end well.
North West education department spokesperson Elias Malindi condemned the disruption.
"This is a very crucial term and we cannot afford to have learners not attending. Very soon matriculants will be sitting for preliminary exams; they need all the time in class.
"We are not saying that the community must not fight for whatever cause, but we are making a strong appeal that they don’t include the children. It’s not fair on them." Malindi said.