Hlubi king goes mobile

2014-12-07 15:00

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Self-proclaimed amaHlubi King Mthimkhulu III has a novel way of raising money. He’s launched a cellular service called HlubiMobile, which allows members of his nation to make “free Hlubi-to-Hlubi calls”.

The monarch, also known as businessman Bryce Mthimkhulu, is launching a court bid to claim billions of rands from the British government to make up for colonial-era destruction of his kingdom.

HlubiMobile is just one plan the king has for bankrolling the planned legal battle.

Mthimkhulu told people at an event at his estate near Endumeni near Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal last Saturday that he had also lined up about R11?billion in investment for massive agribusiness projects, which will be bankrolled and operated by former Pick n Pay director Jonathan Ball’s Elite Food Enterprises.

The king – who was not recognised in 2010 by the Nhlapo Commission, which investigated traditional leadership – also wants to set up an assembly plant for a Russian tractor company, build a shopping mall and get involved in mining.

But for all of this to happen, the amaHlubi’s land claim, which is in direct competition with a similar consolidated claim on behalf of Zulu people by King Goodwill Zwelithini, must be successful.

Last Saturday, former SABC board member Andile Mbeki, who was one of the masters of ceremonies and who speaks on behalf of the king, urged the audience to SMS the word ‘KING’ to 48437 to join HlubiMobile and qualify for free calls to others in the nation.

Mthimkhulu said the community would receive a 30% cut of the profit from HlubiMobile, which is operated in conjunction with businessmen Al Hatton Jones and Sean Smith.

Not content with just fighting a South African land claims battle, Mthimkhulu has appointed a legal team to quantify the claim for the loss of the amaHlubi nation’s ancestral land and livelihood after the sacking of its kingdom and the imprisonment of King Langalibalele on Robben Island in 1875 following the battle of Bushman’s Nek.

At last Saturday’s ceremony, Mthimkhulu introduced the legal team, headed by Unisa law expert Khaled Qasaymeh, which will be involved in fighting the British government for reparations. He said the claim would be presented to the British High Commission in South Africa early next year.

Mthimkhulu said he would prefer to settle the claim – which he said would be “massive” – through negotiations with the former colonial power.

“We would prefer to settle this amicably, but should there not be agreement, we have assembled a very powerful legal team, led by an international expert, to take forward the claim on the basis of international law,” Mthimkhulu told City Press.

He conceded that the quantum of the claim would be difficult to assess.

“It will be a very complicated process. We will need to look at the extent of the losses, the number of cattle, goats, fruit and vegetable gardens that were destroyed, and then look at the passage of time and what this meant.

“This is not merely about money. This is about restitution and righting of wrongs. We want the British to participate in assisting in the economic development of amaHlubi, which was halted by colonial occupation.”

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