Evicted villager sues chief for M1.59 million
Sehlabaka Clement Ramafikeng of Makhalaneng village is claiming M1.59 million from Chief Sebonomoea Ratabane Khoase Ramainoane for allegedly evicting him from a residence he inherited in 2006.
In his papers filed before the High Court, Mr Ramafikeng says he is the legitimate heir to the property, which belonged to the late Ramainoane and ‘MaPhillipi Tlaka-Tlaka Chere, who passed away in 1994 and 2006, respectively.
He claims Chief Ramainoane “unlawfully and wrongfully broke the locks to the premises and replaced them with his own, and also ploughed the fields without consultation and permission”.
Mr Ramafikeng is seeking M1.5million for loss of income for allegedly being denied the use of three fields and M90 000 for the chief’s use of a house which are all part of the property.
In addition, Mr Ramafikeng wants the chief to be kicked off the property.
Advocate Sekatle is representing Mr Ramafikeng while Advocate Zwelakhe Mda (KC) appears for Chief Ramainoane.
During cross-examination in the High Court on Tuesday, Mr Ramafikeng testified he was the rightful heir to the property left in the Tlaka Tlaka Chere family. However, Advocate Mda asked if he was aware of the chief’s history.
“You have no personal knowledge of his lineage. You only told the court what you were told about his background. It’s all hearsay,” Advocate Mda said.
In response, Mr Ramafikeng said he was very aware of the chief’s background. “It is our Basotho tradition to know about our chiefs, and I personally know him,” he told the court.
The lawyer also wanted to know if Mr Ramafikeng had proof of ownership of the said property.
“You are asking this court to evict the respondent from the stated premises and from your evidence, you never tendered any evidence of ownership of that property. Do you have a certificate of ownership of this property?” Advocate Mda continued his cross-examination.
“I was given the property by ‘MaPhillipi before she died and that single document I submitted before the court is the only evidence I have concerning my ownership,” Mr Ramafikeng said.
However, Advocate Mda dismissed the claim and told Mr Ramafikeng he had no right to the property.
“You fall short of claiming any right to that property. You are not competent to seek or reject or receive any relief from this case.
“You must know that ‘Maphillipi only had a right of use, not possession, and you are not a member of that family,” Advocate said.
Mr Ramafikeng acknowledged he was not a family member but still insisted the property was now his.
“I am not a biological member of the family; I was only raised there. But I was given the property by the owner not the clan because they had no children,” he countered.
“Do you now Ramainoane is the chief, duly recognised by the King? That property you are claiming belongs to the office of the chief. You have no competence to challenge his status so you don’t fall in the line of succession in that family,” Advocate Mda pressed further.
But Mr Ramafikeng said he was not aware Ramainoane was a chief.
“I only heard through rumour that he was the chief. I didn’t see anything to show that he is the chief,” he said.
The case was first heard on 4 August 2014, and proceeds before Justice Keketso Moahloli.