Piet Retief – The Mpumalanga High Court has enforced a 2019 court ruling that dethroned a traditional leader of the Yende clan of Piet Retief (Mkhondo) who was wrongly nominated and later occupied the throne.
In a ruling dated 7 November 2022, the Mpumalanga High Court sitting in Mbombela (Nelspruit), the court said the initial ruling to remove “Inkosi” Themba Yende should be implemented.
The dispute over the Yende throne started in 2012 when the former premier, David Mabuza who is now the country's deputy president, recognised the now-dethroned inkosi.
However, Mabuza’s decision was challenged in court first in 2019 (it was won) and later in December 2020, the Supreme Court of Appeal had the final say when it ruled that Yende was wrongly recognised and dethroned him.
Those court cases were brought by Felani Yende together with his Yende royal siblings, Ntombikayise and Sibongile.
They argued that Themba was not the right person to be recognised as the traditional leader of the clan.
They argued that Themba was born out of wedlock and he only assumed the Yende surname (he was using Hadebe, his mother’s surname) in 1997.
Tracing their origins to the Zulu kingdom, Felani and his sisters argued that only their mother, MaMnisi was married to their father, the late Inkosi Leornard Yende.
As such, only Felani the first-born son of the marriage could take over the throne of the clan located near the South Africa-Eswatini border.
Themba’s recognition, the courts ruled, was flawed because all the other family members were not allowed to make an input when he was nominated and later installed.
Ntombikayise who is the spokesperson of the Yende faction that supports Felani claimed back then that the Office of the Premier in Mpumalanga and the provincial department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) had been giving them a run-around instead of implementing the order which dethrones Themba.
She alleged that at some point the provincial government sent them a letter claiming that Themba had been stripped of all the financial support that was allocated to him.
Seeing that the matter was not being resolved, they recently resorted to going back to force the government of Mpumalanga to implement what the court said in 2019 and which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2020.
“Having read the papers and having heard the legal representatives on behalf of the parties, it is ordered that: 1. It is hereby declared that the full court order was handed down on 26 June 2019 which required the first respondent (the premier of Mpumalanga) to remove the fourth respondent from the position as the senior traditional leader of Amayende asogenyaneni (the Yende clan),” reads the ruling by Judge Roeloefse AJ.
Ntombikayise confirmed to IOL on Wednesday that their lawyers sent them the ruling and they have delivered some of its copies to the Gert Sibande District Municipality in Ermelo for its attention.
Previously, the spokesperson of the office of the premier in Mpumalanga, George Mthethwa, referred questions about the matter to Cogta.
Cogta spokesperson, Lindiwe Msibi, disputed that the courts found that Felani is the rightful heir and Themba is not.
“The court ruling never identified Felani Yende as the right heir or that Inkosi Themba Yende as a wrongful heir.
“However, the court ruled that the Inner Royal Family should go back and identify the correct heir to the throne,” Msibi said.
Efforts to locate Themba yielded no positive results.
When the number said to be his was called, a man picked up and said he was writing exams and asked to be called later.
When the number was called hours later, no one picked up.