VhaVenda princess loses appeal bid in challenge for throne

2017-05-25 19:35
Toni Mphephu Ramabulana (File, Daily Sun)

Toni Mphephu Ramabulana (File, Daily Sun)

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Polokwane – The Limpopo High Court on Thursday dismissed an attempted appeal by VhaVenda princess Masindi Mphephu against the dismissal of her challenge to the throne.

Masindi is challenging her cousin Toni Mphephu Ramabulana for the crown. She claims she is the rightful heir, as she is the daughter of the late king.

Ramabulana is not her uncle, as previously reported. President Jacob Zuma recognised Ramabulana as king in 2012.

In December 2016, the Thohoyandou High Court dismissed Masindi’s bid to prevent Ramabulana from ascending to the throne.

In court papers, Masindi argues that she was sidelined for the throne because she is a woman, and that the traditional council’s approach to the matter was unconstitutional.

On Thursday, the court said the appeal should have shown that she had a reasonable prospect of success, or compelling reasons as to why the application should be heard.

"After hearing the counsel... I am not persuaded that another court will come to another conclusion," said Judge President Ephraim Makgoba.

Makgoba told Masindi's counsel that their application had not changed, and was a similar argument to one raised last year during the main application.

"There are no reasonable prospects of success on appeal and... there are no other compelling reasons in my view [as to why the] appeal should be heard," he said, when handing down the ruling.


Masindi’s legal counsel, Allan Dudson, had argued that his client had been sidelined when the Mphephu Royal Council endorsed Ramabulana as the king.

Ramabulana was nominated by the council after the Nhlapo Commission, tasked to investigate kingship and senior traditional leadership disputes, concluded its work.

Dudson also argued that his client was only 14 years old in 2010, when the commission was investigating the kingship dispute, and as a result could not raise her grievances.

But counsel for Zuma and the Mphephu Royal Council shot down this argument, saying Dudson and his client had failed to utilise the commission, and wanted to use the court to validate Masindi's claim.

Advocate Thabiso Machaba said Masindi had failed to submit claims at the commission, and now wanted to use judiciary as a key to unlock a process concluded years ago.

"The president never knew that Masindi is a contender and would not have written to her," he told the court.

"They have failed to refer their issue to the commission, now they want the court to refer their issue to the commission. They are saying the door is locked, let's get the court to refer the proceedings so that the door is opened," said Machaba.

Advocate Norman Arendse, representing Zuma, concurred with Machaba, in that Masindi should have sought a remedy or intervention via the commission.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  culture

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