Traditional Dispute Resolution through Lekgotla: The Approach of the Bakgatla Ba Mosetlha in the North West Province of South Africa
Keywords:Conflict resolution, lekgotla, conflict, dispute resolution, traditional, Bakgatla Ba Mosetlha
South Africa has a mixed legal system and owns state and customary dispute resolution systems where formal and informal laws co-exist. The article addresses the traditional dispute resolution in South Africa, particularly how lekgotla (traditional court) mediates and resolves disputes in the North West Province at the village of Makapanstad which has over 32 villages under its traditional authority. The article applies Community-Engaged Participatory Research (CEPR) that includes narratives (storytelling), observations of traditional court proceedings, one-on-one interviews, focus group discussions, home visits, and community dialogues through an ongoing engaged research project called Lekgotla La Batho. The article argues that there should be a collaborative working relationship between traditional leaders, elected local representatives and the court system to effect benefits for rural communities through adequately defined legislative frameworks and processes. It advocates for a model of cooperative conflict resolution in rural areas that is at the grassroots level, is understood, and conforms to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. However, the powers and functions in traditional dispute resolution are not adequately spelt out in the Constitution and there is a lack of constructive interaction, coordination, and collaboration between the traditional institution of conflict resolution and the formal court system. There are debates on the guidelines to implement the coordination or collaboration between these two institutions. However, these debates occur amid significant challenges such as human rights issues, lack of documentation of traditional dispute cases, and checks and balances in the powers to be transferred to traditional leaders within the democratic Constitutional prescriptions.
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Interviews from the community (scripts available with the authors)
Diane tsa Kgotla (Idiomatic expressions for traditional court): Collected from members of the traditional council in Makapanstad, 06 September 2022.
Interview with Mr JN Thlabane, member of the Bakgatla Ba Mosethla Traditional Council and a community researcher 24 November 2017.
Interview with Mr Lencoe Makapan (Executive Secretary of the Bakgatla Ba Mosetlha), 17 February 2018 at Makapanstad Traditional Council Hall (Mosate).
Interview with Mr Lencoe Makapan (Executive Secretary of the Bakgatla Ba Mosetlha), 29 August 2018 at Makapanstad Traditional Council Hall (Mosate).
Interview with Mr Moatlhodi Makapan, member of the Bakgatla Ba Mosethla Traditional Council on March 17, 2017. Mr Moatlhodi Makapan is also a village leader responsible for Tladistad village (one of the villages under the Makapanstad kingdom).
Interview with Mr Mokgoshi, a member of the Bakgatla Ba Mosethla Traditional Council and a village leader at Kgomo-kgomo. It is important to note that the name Kgomo-Kgomo means that the villagers bought the land through cattle’s and each of them had to give some cattle for his or her piece of land 18 March 2018).
Interview with Ms Julia Maluleke (Trdational Council Member from Norokie Village) on 17 March 2017 at Makapanstad Traditional Council Hall (Mosate).
Interview with Ms Julia Maluleke, a member of the Bakgatla Ba Mosethla and a former ward councillor at Noroki Village (17 March 2017).
Mrs Annah Kgope is a member of the Bakgatla Ba Mosethla traditional council and a leader of a clan council which belongs to her family lineage (12 September 2019).
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