The 25-year-old Masindi Mphephu.
The battle to decide who will be king of the Vhavenda is clearly far from over. One of the rounds is set to play off in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the not-so-distant future.
The SCA notified the parties last week that leave for appeal was granted to Masindi Mphephu against a decision of Judge Ephraim Makgoba made in the Limpopo High Court. In December last year, Judge Makgoba dismissed her case in which she challenged the appointment of her uncle, Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, as king of the Vhavenda.
Last year, the legal team of Masindi Mphephu approached the court, asking it to first rule on numerous technical aspects in the kingship case. The case was heard in the Limpopo High Court in Thohoyandou and the applicants asked that the court rule on 17 questions, which include matters of jurisdiction, the periods of prescription and the applicable review processes to be followed. The court was also asked to determine whether the President Zuma’s decision to acknowledge Toni Mphephu as king of the Vhavenda should first be challenged and whether the legislation had been in place to make it a lawful decision.
Judge President Ephraim Makgoba questioned whether the applicants had exhausted all other avenues, such as the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, to resolve the dispute. He was also not convinced that the issue of male primogeniture was central to the case. He dismissed the case, paving the way for the coronation of a new king.
Masindi’s lawyers then obtained a court interdict effectively halting all such ceremonies until such time as the legal processes are exhausted. They also filed papers to appeal Judge Makgoba’s ruling. When this request was not granted, Masindi’s legal team requested permission to appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.
In an interview with News 24 last week, Masindi Mphephu said she was prepared to fight all the way to the Constitutional Court. It is expected that the battle may very well end up in the Constitutional Court, as the issue of male primogeniture is central to the main arguments.
The 25-year-old daughter of the late Paramount Chief of the Vhavenda, Tshimangadzo Dimbanyika Mpephu, believes that she was side-lined because she is a woman. She was about six years old when her father was killed in a vehicle accident. She was the only child of the late Paramount Chief. The royal family instead opted to recognise her uncle, Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, as the next king of the Vhavenda.
Date:27 August 2017 - By: Anton van Zyl
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror for over 27 years. He graduated at the the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.