Chieftainship feud wiping out the Mbuyazi royal bloodline

By Sandile Motha

Johannesburg – The atmosphere remains tense and unpredictable in KwaMbonambi community on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast over the unresolved chieftaincy that has claimed more than 12 lives of the royal bloodline.

The sudden passing of Comfort Ngidi, a well-known lawyer appointed by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government to broker a peace deal between the rival factions in the Mbuyazi clan has heightened tensions.

The deadlock has blocked more than R70-million in claim compensations, which cannot be disbursed to the land claimants until the rightful heir to the throne is appointed.

The sum was paid by the Richards Bay Minerals, a subsidiary of mineral giant Rio Tinto group, which is conducting mineral activities on the Mbuyazi ancestral land.

Now community activists tell Sunday World that the villagers are united behind Sithembile Mkhize, the wife of late chief Sibusiso Mbuyazi, to be appointed as a regent, saying this will allow normality to prevail until a permanent chief is appointed.

The Mbuyazi chiefaincy deadlock is currently the subject of litigation between Mkhize and the deceased inkosi’s half-brother Mkhanyiseni Mbuyazi.

The matter has been in the Constitutional Court since 2006.

“The KwaMbonambi community at large is advocating for home-brewed solutions as the only strategy that will stop this bloodshed and lead to lasting peace for the community. This community has known no peace for over 15 years and counting. We are held at ransom by rogue elements within the royal family who are using violence and intimidation to stall community progress,” explained Siphosethu Mpanza, a community activist.

He said the villagers were sceptical of administrators appointed by the provincial government to oversee the community trust and handle the affairs of the clan because they had “stolen” from the community.

“The last administrator divided the community and more than R30-million, which should have been paid out to beneficiaries, disappeared without a trace. A list of fictitious land compensation benefciaries was also created and community funds were embezzled,” Mpanza told Sunday World.

Last year, premier Sihle Zikalala appointed advocate Ngidi to mediate between the rival factions, but in December Ngidi subsequently passed away due to Covid-19-related complications while in the middle of negotiations.

Ngidi’s intervention coincided with the brutal assassination of induna Judea Mbuyazi, who was a key negotiator and a trusted member of the royal family. Mbuyazi was ambushed while at a local mall by unknown gunmen who fired a volley of shots in what appeared to be the work of highly skilled marksmen.

The cold-blooded murder was caught on a CCTV footage.

A few weeks before the incident, Meshack Mbuyazi, another member of the royal family, was also assassinated in a similar fashion. Mkhize, who is fighting for the chieftaincy rights of her son, has also fled the area, saying she feared for her son’s safety.

Meanwhile, another activist said Mkhize must be appointed as the regent.

“Traditionally and by law as a wife of the late inkosi, she is entitled to occupy the leadership position until her son comes of age and takes over. But she is being prejudiced because she is a woman,” said Nozipho Mkhwanazi. Senzelwe Mzila, the provincial Cogta spokesperson, said the department was seized with the matter of appointing a new mediator. “The Office of the Premier and that of Cogta have been proactive in remedying the chieftaincy dispute.”

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