Vhavenda Princess Masindi Mphephu back in court

Woman challenges uncle’s appointment

BUKUTA NKUNA

THE fight for the Vhavenda throne is set to return to court as Princess Masindi Mphephu intensifies her fight with her uncle.

The royal family has been at loggerheads for the past five years regarding who should lead and that has resulted in Masindi and her uncle Chief Toni Ramabulana Mphephu exchanging blows in court.

Recently the Supreme Court of Appeals granted Masindi permission to challenge a ruling by the Limpopo High Court which was in her uncle’s favour over the kingship.

Speaking to African Times, Masindi’s spokesperson Lufuno Ramabulana said that they were waiting for both parties to sign court papers in order to issue out a date for a court hearing.

“We are expected to file our documents including the recall of the judgment by the High Court in Limpopo and there will be a six-week period for the other parties to sign. From there on, we will supplement whatever we have filed so that the matter will be allocated a date. Most probably we are expecting the first quarter of next year, that we will secure a date with the Supreme Court of Appeal,” said Ramabulana.

“Remember this matter dates back from 2012 so we are considering taking the matter to the Constitutional Court but it must start with all the proper channels before going to there. Depending on what we get from the Supreme Court of Appeal, we will consider our options. The SCA’s decision is a clear sign that we will be successful in our case because it was granted on paper even before the Supreme Court of Appeal could hear our grievances,” said Ramabulana.

In her papers, Masindi said she was the only child born of Paramount Chief Tshimangadzo Mphephu, who reigned as King Dimbanyika of the Vhavenda from 1994 to 1997 (when he passed away) and his dzekiso (heir-bearing) wife.

As such, she was entitled to succeed as queen of the Vhavenda, but has been denied the right to assert her claim on the basis of the customary law rule of male primogeniture by the Mphephu- Ramabulana Royal Family Council which she does not acknowledge to be a body that exists lawfully under Vhavenda customary law.

“The eight respondent purported to identify Toni as King of the Vhavenda people on 14 August 2010 and referred a request to the President to have Toni recognized as King by the president (in terms of section 9 of the TLGFA). Both the constitution of this body and the process that it followed in purporting to identify Toni as King is illegitimate under Vhavenda customary law and is the subject of this review,” she said.

Ramabulana said that the constant legal feud has been emotionally draining to Masindi as people she had looked up to had deserted her.

“Initially she had issues in the past but at the moment she has reconciled with herself because it has not been an easy journey. She had to embrace the reality that this was actually happening,” said Ramabulana.

The King’s spokesperson Jackson Mafunzwaini said that they were not shaken by the Princess appeal as the King is the rightful heir to the throne.

“No, I don’t think this will impact the current balance because the royal family is intact so we do not have a problem with that. They may try to create divisions (in the royal family) but they won’t see that.

“You must remember that there is no court of law that will intervene in a matter of kingship whether it is headmanship, traditional leadership or kingship. No court of law will ever determine that so and so is the rightful heir to the throne. It is only the royal family in terms of the law that can do so,” said Mafunzwaini.

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