Allegations against Ngwanamohube to be investigated by the Hawks.
THE Office of the Public Protector in Limpopo has washed its hands off the serious allegations levelled against a regent as the Ga-Mphahlele royal and mining battles continue to take twists and turns.
But the Mphahlele Royal Council which has been in a battle with regent Sophie Ngwanamohube Phatudi-Mphahlele (commonly referred to as Ngwanamohube) has since taken another step to remove her from the position. Its chairperson, Nkopodi Mphahlele, told African Times that the royal family is to meet with the Limpopo Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA) in December to communicate their decision. “The meeting will be to communicate the decision taken by the royal family to replace Ngwanamohube and the identity of the person to replace her,” Mphahlele said.
He said the decision by the Public Protector was based on technicality. However, the allegations against Ngwanamohube was also being investigated by the police elite unit, Hawks, and the matter was also inclusive in the court application, Mphahlele said.
In providing reasons not to proceed with an investigation, the Public Protector’ senior investigator SB Mahloko, in a correspondence confirmed by provincial representative Adv MG Matimolane, pointed out, amongst others, that “the Public Protector is an independent constitutional body established under section 181(1)(a) of the Constitution to strengthen constitutional democracy through investigating and redressing improper conduct in state affairs.
“The Traditional Authority and its Leader are not a state institution and therefore we have no jurisdiction to investigate complaints against them”.
On 7 April this year, the Royal Council approached the Public Protector to investigate Ngwanamohube on various allegations. The allegations were that;
- Ngwanamohube and the chairperson of the Tribal Authority were misusing an ABSA account held under the Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele to benefit themselves
- The principal signatories continue to withdraw huge amounts from the account but failed to furnish the community with audited financial statements as at 2017 retrospectively
- An investment account held with ABSA was supposed to be have been registered in the name of the Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele. However, it was discovered that it has been opened under Mphahlele Matlagolo Alpheus who is the secretary of the Council for many years.
- In 2016, almost R2m was withdrawn and could not be accounted for by Ngwanamohube
- There is a trend of selling residential sites, but the money could not be accounted for, and the misuse of vehicles with petrol consumption of up to R240 000 per annum.
The latest development comes in the backdrop of the bitter royal and mining battles which started since the death of Kgoshi Mmutle III in 1950. The Mphahlele community has never had a chief since the death of Mmutle III and regency has been the norm for the past 67 years.
Ngwanamohube was appointed a regent after the death of Moepadira in 1974. She and her eldest son, Thabo Malekutu, now stands accused of entering into an unlawful agreement with a private company known as Dithabeng Mining to mine chrome in the area.
The directors of Dithabeng Mining include controversial businessman Adriano Mazzotti who owns cigarette company Carnlinx and he is known to be close to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. The EFF has also been accused by the Royal Council of meddling in the affairs of Ga-Mphahlele.
The Polokwane High Court, after hearing an application brought by the Royal Council and other community structures, has since ordered Dithabeng Mining, Ngwanamohube and Thabo Malekutu to cease the illegal mining in the area.
The Royal Council, in the Part B of the court application, seek to remove Ngwanamohube from her position. The matter will be heard at a date still to be set by the court.
However, Ngwanamohube, in the court papers, has hit back, dismissing the Mphahlele Royal Council as non-existent and “moreover, such a council, if it exists, is not in charge of the Mphahlele traditional community”.
The battle in Ga-Mphahlele is a drop in the ocean given the number of feuds afflicting the institution of traditional leadership in the province. In 2012, there were 28 kingship claims, 398 senior traditional leadership claims, 94 headmen and women claims and 23 traditional leadership boundaries disputes which the Kgatla Commission had to investigate.
The Commission still has to release its findings.