Premier Mokgoro fails in contempt of court application against chief John Pilane
Bakgatla Ba Kgafela chief John Pilane, whose certificate of recognition as chief was withdrawn by North West premier Job Mokgoro in July, has welcomed a court order passed on Wednesday dismissing an application that he was in contempt of court.
The premier launched this application last week after an order passed on September 3 in the Mahikeng high court, when the court ordered Pilane to hand over the control and management of the traditional administration offices to acting chief Phineas Tjie and acting chief Rangwane Linchwe.
“Kgosi Pilane immediately applied for leave to appeal the order which suspended the operation of the (September 3) order,” a statement issued on behalf of the traditional community said.
However Mokgoro, Linchwe and Tjie launched an urgent application seeking an order declaring Pilane to be in contempt of the September 3 order. They also sought an order imposing a jail term on him.
The traditional community said the contempt application was brought in defiance of the application for leave to appeal that had been launched by Pilane.
“It is upon this basis that Kgosi Pilane was advised by his lawyers ... not to oppose this stillborn application.”
The lawyer for the premier, the administrator and the acting chief appeared in court on their own on Wednesday and the court dismissed the contempt application with costs.
“The Royal Family and Kgosi Pilane would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the community of Moruleng for their stance in defending the assets of the community.”
A date still needs to set for Pilane's court challenge in which he wants the court to declare that the decision by Mokgoro to withdraw the recognition certificate is invalid and unconstitutional.
Pilane also wants the court to set aside the proclamation by Mokgoro dated July 6, which issued a certificate of recognition as acting chief to Linchwe for six months.
The withdrawal of the certificate of recognition against Pilane follows the findings of a commission of inquiry into the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela.
The commission had several terms of reference, including investigation of the flow of financial benefits in any transactions conducted with any third parties in the name of Bakgatla Ba Kgafela.
A report was released last year, which stated that Pilane did not meaningfully consult with or seek the approval of the community in transactions with third parties, including the application of monies derived from transactions with third parties.
After receipt of the report, Mokgoro resolved to appoint a forensic investigation into transactions and the financial affairs of the traditional council and its companies.
In March this year, Mokgoro appointed Tjie as administrator of the traditional council's affairs, an appointment that is opposed by Pilane.
Pilane's lawyers said the commission's findings, released in August last year, were spoilt by “crass” material errors of law and said they were likely to be set aside.