Eastern Cape MEC for local government and traditional affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyane has appealed to the Pondo nation to mourn the death of Eastern Pondoland king Mpondombini Sigcau in unity.
Sigcau (71) died after a long battle with diabetes at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha last night. He had been admitted to the hospital on Tuesday after suffering a stroke.
The AmaMpondo king was a double amputee, following complications related to diabetes.
He was in Pretoria’s 1 Military Hospital from 2010 until last year.
Sigcau was the brother of the late public works minister Stella Sigcau.
Messages of support for the Eastern Pondoland nation poured in today.
Qoboshiyane said the demise of the king had come as a shock to the Eastern Cape government.
“We send our condolences to his family, his loved ones and the Mpondo nation as a whole,” Qoboshiyane said.
He appealed to the Pondo people to mourn him in unity.
“He spent his entire life working for his people, building traditional institutions and keeping this heritage with dignity,” he said, adding that his department would work with the family to provide logistical support in preparation for the king’s funeral.
Before his death, Mpondombini had been involved in a bitter court battle with his nephew, King Zanozuko Sigcau, after the latter was recognised as the legitimate monarch of eastern and western AmaMpondo.
This followed recommendations by the Nhlapo Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, that Mpondombini be dethroned, as Zanozuko was the rightful ruler, a fate that has since divided the Pondo nation.
The late king is survived by his wife, two daughters and a grandchild.
Family spokesperson Nkosi Mandilive Cinani said the family and the entire nation of AmaMpondo had been shocked by the passing of the monarch.
Cinani said a date for the funeral was still to be decided.
President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa Nkosi Patekile Holomisa said Mpondombini Sigcau had been a wise and experienced king who had led a strong nation.
“We are saddened by the passing of one of our own. His nation was very influential in the fight for freedom in this country. But we believe he is now at peace as he had been in pain for a long time,” Holomisa said.