Throne wars in the Venda royal house

File: Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, the VhaVenda king, congratulates his Xhosa counterpart Mpendulo Sigcawu on May 15 last year in Nqadu, Willowvale in the Eastern Cape. Photo: Lenyaro Sello / eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - Masindi Mphephu says the fight for the VhaVenda throne is a war as the princess is at loggerheads with her uncle Toni Mphephu Ramabulana on who should sit on the thrown.

Ramabulana has been in charge since 2012, but his young niece says she will fight him to the end.

Masindi Mphephu, the young woman who claims she's the rightful heir to the VhaVenda throne.

Last week, the 24-year-old convinced the Thohoyandou High Court to halt the coronation of her uncle Toni Mphephu Ramabulana.

Her late father Tshimangadzo Mphephu, was crowned king of the VhaVenda in 1993, with Ramabulana as his regent.

Mphephu died in 1997 in a car accident.

The princess has been challenging her uncle's ascendancy to the throne since 2012.

Mphephu said of the Venda Royal House,"I don’t remember much about my father, after my father died my mother and I were kicked out of the palace, we stayed in two rondavels at the back of the palace, we stayed there until 2012 when I said I want my throne and my mother and I left the palace to stay with my grandmother."

The coronation of Tony Mphephu was announced by government last month, as part of a bid to restore the kingdom, which had collapsed under Apartheid.

It was endorsed by the president, after the Nhlapo Commission into traditional leaders revealed that Mphephu is the rightful king.

"The thing is growing up, I always knew that because I am a woman I cannot ascend the throne. My uncle Charles told me that I can take over if I want to…and I felt I want to do this," she added.

But not everyone in the family or community has been on her side.

"This is not easy this huge, it’s not funny, this is like war. It’s war, I mean to fight against me for something that they know is rightfully mine. It’s bad. Other chiefs are saying they will support him, they will only bow down to him."

Mphephu is in and out of Limpopo regularly, to see her grandmother, as living there is not an option for now, due to safety concerns.

"For me it is more of security reasons, you never know what might happen when I step there, what will his people do, I’m sure they are not taking this lying down. I mean black people and witchcraft." She said.

While she says she won’t stop the fight, one cultural expert who was an adviser to the Nhlapo Commission, says it'll be a tough battle.

Cultural Expert Pitka Ntuli said, "We went back centuries into who ruled in Venda, after weighing all, we dismissed a number of people who were claiming and that princess was not there. I do not think in my opinion she can overturn a decision that was legitimately taken and gazetted and stamped."

As the matter remains before the courts, the VhaVenda princess says she fears nothing in the fight ahead.

 

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