Chief Nyalala Pilane, of the Bakgatla-Bagafela tribe in Moruleng village, North West, spent the entire day defending himself in the Mogwase regional court yesterday.
He told magistrate Stefaan du Toit and a packed court room that since he assumed the chieftainship in 1997 he had acquired R8 billion in mineral concessions for his tribe.
Pilane is facing 46 fraud and theft charges amounting to R40million. His alleged accomplice, Shimane Motshegoe, is charged with stealing R10000 belonging to the tribe in 2003.
Pilane said he and Motshegoe operated on the basis of a mandate from the tribal chiefs. The chief said he had been mandated to negotiate a R13million deal with the Land Bank, which he is now accused of defrauding.
The state will today cross examine the accused. Judgment is expected tomorrow.