The battle lines have been drawn between abaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo and his son, acting king Azenathi, over who should occupy the Bumbane Great Place.
Azenathi has secured a restraining order against his father, but Buyelekhaya says nothing will stop him from going home and resuming his duties.
The Bumbane Great Place is the royal residency of the king of the abaThembu and it is currently being occupied by Azenathi, who refuses to allow his father, Buyelekhaya, to return to the palace following his release from prison.
In the wee hours of Friday Buyelekhaya allegedly stormed the Bumbane Great Place and ransacked the house, resulting in the acting king and his wife, Usikhumbulile, sustaining minor injuries and fleeing for their safety.
Buyelekhaya, who allegedly had an axe, machete and crowbar, also allegedly removed clothes and furniture belonging to Azenathi from the house and chased him away.
Buyelekhaya was seen moving around the place where his father, King Sabata, is buried.
In December 2019, Buyelekhaya was released on parole after serving four years of a 12-year jail sentence. He was convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and arson.
Since his release from prison, Buyelekhaya has been living in his private residence in Nkululekweni, Mthatha.
Friday was the first time the king had returned to the Bumbane Great Place.
Released on a warning
Following his arrest on Friday, Buyelekhaya was released on a warning and returned to Nkululekweni.
On the day of his release, he was served with a protection order from his son, which prohibited him from returning to Bumbane.
Prince Mthunzi Ngonyama, Buyelekhaya's spokesperson, told City Press that the king had tried to return to Bumbane after he appeared in court.
Ngonyama said police advised Buyelekhaya that there was a protection order against him and that he should not go there.
"I was with the king on Saturday and we were about a kilometre away from the Great Place when police called the king and told him to abort his mission because the protection order the acting king got against him prevents him from setting foot in the Great Place.
"So, we turned back. We could see that there was a function taking place. We were almost there," Ngonyama said.
City Press has seen the protection order, dated 13 March.
Prince Ngonyama said that when the king visited the Bumbane Great Place on Friday, he had an axe and crowbar – tools he had used to gain access to the premises.
He said the king had no intention to harm anyone and had not attacked anybody.
Ngonyama, speaking on behalf of the king in East London's Bonnie Doon suburb, said Buyelekhaya was still "down" and "not in a state" to talk to anyone, especially the media.
In a statement, the king said that prior to his release in December he had asked his son, Azenathi, to make space for him in Bumbane before his return, because he had been occupying the Great Place without his permission.
Buyelekhaya said he decided to go to his residence in Nkululekweni as a temporary measure after he was informed that the Bumbane Great Place would only be ready for his return in seven days.
"To my surprise seven days went passed without any feedback… I decided to go back to my home on 13 March. I was not expecting any welcome home visit from them, given their resistance to move out.
"So, I prepared all the necessary tools that would help me get access to my house, right from the chain gate to my house.
"Upon realising that I was making my way in, they decided to run away for reasons known to themselves. I went straight to my bedroom, which I expected to be empty.
"To my surprise it was being used. In order to make space for my stuff, I took out all the stuff that was in there. I was then arrested for having done so," read the statement.
Following his arrest, the king appeared briefly in the Mthatha Magistrate's Court and was released on a warning.
Buyelekhaya was charged with assault by threatening and malicious damage to property. He is due to appear in court again on 1 June.
In his statement he said that although the court reaffirmed his right to occupy the Bumbane Great Place, his son went to a different magistrate to apply for a protection order that prevents him from gaining access to the premises.
"Soon after the court granted me access to my house, my son decided to get an urgent protection order against me and asked the magistrate to prevent me from accessing my house in Bumbane. I was served with his papers on the morning of 14 March while I was preparing to go back home," he said.
Ngonyama said there was nothing that would stop the king from going home and resuming his duties because he had the title deed for the property and still held the certificate of recognition as the king of the abaThembu.