Chief in money row

Alfred Moselakgomo

A school in Mpumalanga is threatening to block a cellular network giant from installing an antenna in its yard after learning that the R24000 yearly rental will go to a local chief.

In 2007 MTN asked the Dikgabo Combined School in Lefiso village to put up an aerial tower in the school yard. But a tug-of-war started when Kgosi Tlhame Moepi of Bakgatla Ba Mocha claimed the rent because the school was "on my soil".

MTN then reneged on its promise to pay the money to the school. MTN announced yesterday that the money would be paid to the chief in R2000 monthly instalments.

MTN spokesperson Bridget Bhengu and tribal office secretary Sam Mmutle have confirmed the deal, but the school management says it will block the tower being placed on its premises.

Mmutle said the tribal authority needed the money to pay staff. "The money will help with the day-to-day running of the tribal office," he said.

However, principal William Kgarabyae told Sowetan : " That won't happen, even if it means we should go to the Constitutional Court."

Education spokesperson Jasper Zwane has suggested an equal sharing of the money between the community and the chief.