Senior traditional leader, Vho Mavis Masala Mphephu. Photo supplied
In yet another embarrassing scenario to hit a senior royal family, a senior traditional leader found herself out in the cold after the royal family announced that she will be removed as Thovhele of Dzanani.
In what is believed to be internal squabbles in the royal family, during a meeting by the Ramabulana Royal Family held on 18 April, the family resolved to relieve senior traditional leader Vho Mavis Masala Mphephu of her royal duties.
The intention to remove her comes barely two months after a similar scenario at Matsila, where Thovhele Nthumeni Masia “stripped” Vhafuwi Vho Livhuwani Matsila of his title, citing insubordination.
Limpopo Mirror is in possession of a letter sent to Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha detailing the resolutions taken during a meeting by the royal family. The letter states that while the process leading to her relief from her duties is pending, her salary and any other benefits should be suspended immediately.
Among the reasons advanced for her removal is that she was erroneously identified as a traditional leader and was appointed by Khotsimunene, which is against the Masingo a ha Mphephu-Ramabulana tradition that a king, senior traditional leader, headman, or headwoman must be identified by a khadzi. In this case, they argue, she was supposed to have been identified by the senior khadzi, Vho Phophi Ramabulana.
“Thus, her identification and installation were not done in accordance with the customs and customary law of Masingo a ha Mphephu-Ramabulana,” the letter states. Another argument offered is that the meeting during which she was identified as traditional leader was not a duly constituted meeting of the Mphephu Ramabulana royal family.
Mphephu is further accused of insubordination and defiance. On 22 February this year, the royal family had allegedly requested a meeting with her, but Vho Mavis had declined the invitation. She addressed a letter to the royal family saying that when she was free, she would call the royal family to come to her.
She is also said to have undermined the authority of the royal family by bringing back Mr Calvin Ramabulana to the Mphephu Ramabulana Traditional Council as her council member, while she was fully aware that Mr Calvin Ramabulana had been suspended by the royal family.
Mr Calvin Ramabulana has deposed a confirmatory affidavit challenging the decision of the royal family to identify Mr Mavhungu David Mphephu as the acting King of the Vhavenda people.
Sources close to the situation said the royal family had erred from the start when they had installed Vho Mavis as chief. “They realised they shot themselves in the foot. How did she end up there in the first place? Whose daughter is she who was a chief? There must be more to this, and the royal family should just come clean,” said the source, who did not want to be identified.
The Ramabulana royal family’s spokesperson, Mr Ntsieni Ramabulana, said only after careful consideration, and taking into account all factors such as the relevant legislation, had the royal family arrived at such a resolution. “Everything was followed to the [letter of the] book, and Mphephu was afforded all the opportunity [to respond], but she continued transgressing the customary laws and disregarded the instructions of the royal family,” he said.
Several efforts to elicit comment from Vho Mavis Masala Mphephu were unsuccessful.
Date:25 November 2023
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.