Court confirms ex-Ciskei leader’s son as AbaThembu Council head

Court confirms former Ciskei leader’s son as AbaThembu Council head.
Court confirms former Ciskei leader’s son as AbaThembu Council head.
Image: FILE

The nephew of former Ciskei homeland president Lennox Sebe has won another legal battle over the sovereignty of the AbaThembu Traditional Council at Zweledinga in Whittlesea.

Nkosi Viwe Simon Hebe, who is also the deputy chairman of the Chris Hani Local House of Traditional Leaders, can freely continue with his work as there is no legal cloud hanging over his legitimacy.

Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle had been trying to replace him with claimant Sabelo Katsi.

The Constitutional Court has confirmed Hebe’s legitimacy and dismissed with costs the premier’s application for appeal.

Masualle decided in October 2013 to recognise Kati as chief of the AbaThembu of Zweledinga in the Whittlesea area despite the community already having Hebe as their chief since 2007.

The Constitutional Court has concluded the application for leave should be dismissed with cost as it has no prospects of success.

The premier’s decision was based on a recommendation of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims led by Dr Nokuzola Mndende.

The commission found that the AbaThembu, AmaHala and AmaTshatshu from the Glen Grey area, who did not support Transkei independence under KD Matanzima in 1976, were resettled at Whittlesea.

It said that Hebe’s chieftainship only surfaced in 1981 after the death of Reuben Katsi, and conveniently and curiously after the homeland strongman Lennox Sebe married into the Hebe family.

Although Reuben Katsi was proposed as chief of AmaTshatshu, Ntombeni Simon Hebe was installed by then Ciskei president Lennox Sebe as chief of several of the smaller groupings making up the AbaThembu.

Hebe took the matter to court after the Mndende Commission found in October 2013 that the rightful senior traditional leader was Sabelo Katsi.

Veteran lawyer Dumisani Tabata succeeded in convincing the courts that Hebe is the legitimate head of the council.

The 10 Concourt justices, including Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, dismissed Masualle’s appeal and confirmed Hebe’s legitimacy.

“The Constitutional Court has concluded the application for leave should be dismissed with cost as it has no prospects of success,’’ said Mogoeng.

Following the ConCourt ruling Hebe, as the legitimate head of the AbaThembu Traditional Council in Whittlesea, said he was now focusing his energy on development of his community, creating unity and harmony.

“The state’s legal services must do introspections as to what damage they have done to this community and be ashamed of their ill-advice to the premier of the Eastern Cape and wasted public funds. A question is who should be paying for the court’s legal costs? The premier in his personal capacity and his legal team singularly or severally?’’ said Hebe.

Hebe of AmaNgxongo community was embroiled in a legal battle with challenger Sabelo Katsi of the AmaTshatshu community over who is the rightful leader of AbaThembu in the Hewu district since 1997 soon after Hebe’s father, Nkosi Simon Hebe, died.

“The chieftaincy, the royal family and the community are elated by the judgment of the highest court in the country which vindicated our chieftaincy in the Zweledinga area of Whittlesea. The case has run the spectrum of our judiciary system, with 17 judges in attendance and singing the same song – that we are the legitimate rulers of our nation,’’ said Hebe.

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