Sigcau will be remembered for fighting for what he believed in

2013-03-31 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mpondombini Justice Sigcau, the deposed king of Eastern Pondoland who died of a stroke earlier this week, will be remembered as a man who fought to the end for what he believed in.

He was 71 years old when he died at the Qaukeni royal residence near Lusikisiki in Eastern Cape.

He passed away at a time when the Constitutional Court was still hearing his disputed claim to the kingship of his people, following the ruling of the Nhlapo commission on traditional leadership disputes that resulted in him losing the title he had inherited from his father and former president of the Transkei Bantustan government Botha Sigcau in 1978.

The commission recognised his nephew, King Zanozuko Sigcau, as the legitimate king of all the Mpondo people in 2010. While all the other dethroned monarchs retained their benefits as “principal traditional leaders” until death, Sigcau was the only king who got stripped of everything outright.

He immediately took President Jacob Zuma, the commission and seven other respondents to the North Gauteng High Court, but he lost the case last year. Sigcau subsequently approached the Constitutional Court, which heard his appeal of the high court decision last this month.

Around the time Zuma the ruling of the commission Sigcau suffered diabetes-related complications, and subsequently had both his legs amputated at the 1 Military hospital in Pretoria.

Sigcau will also be remembered for his role in opposing foreign mining interests in the Wild Coast area of Xolobeni. The dispute over the economic benefits versus the long-term impact of mining on the scenic region of the Eastern Cape divided the Mpondo people down the middle.

Others argued that it was futile to oppose mining by the Australian-led consortium that wanted to mine titanium deposits when there was so much poverty in Pondoland, and when locals eked their meagre living by providing labour to the mines outside the province.

There were also concerns that people would be forced off their ancestral land, and that eco-tourism would be hurt by mining.

Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA president Patekile Holomisa said Sigcau and his wife MaSobhuza did not want development to occur at the expense of their people’s natural heritage.

“They understood the plight of AmaMpondo, but they were also aware that the beauty of the Wild Coast was attributable to the lack of development. He felt poverty and unemployment could be tackled without destroying their heritage, such flora and fauna,” Holomisa said.

In 2011, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu revoked an earlier government decision to grant the Xolobeni mining licence.

Sigcau also opposed the route Sanral had chosen for the Wild Coast’s N2 toll road project on the grounds that it favoured the mining companies, and not the development of the area. Some believed that his loss of the throne was punishment for blocking the two projects, but there was no evidence for this.

A former rugby player for the erstwhile “Black national rugby team” in his youth, Sigcau was awarded the honorary Springbok blazer in the 1990s for having played prop for the team.

The deposed king’s social worker John Clarke once asked him about the kind of player he was.

“I could run very fast for a prop and the opposition (the coloured National Team) were beaten because I would receive the ball on the wing and run around their wings and fullback and score in the corner.

“But as to what sort of player I was, you had better ask my team mates not me,” he told Clarke.

His sister Stella Sigcau served as a minister in both former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s administrations before she died in 2006.

Sigcau is survived by his wife of 35 years, and three adult children Wezizwe, Bekiwe and Zulu.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.