The king is back
AmaMpondomise get their kingship restored after 115 long years
A 115-year battle for a rebellious, anti-colonial Eastern Cape nation to get their king back ended on Thursday.
This was when the Mthatha high court declared that AmaMpondomise did have a kingship and ordered that the kingship be reinstated.
Judge Richard Brooks also ordered that a decision taken by the Tolo Commission opposing the AmaMpondomise’s claim should be set aside.
The outcome was met with elation. There were cheers, handshakes and hugs among supporters of the kingship who were present in court.
Speaking on behalf of the AmaMpondomise, Sithembele Tshitshi said the ruling was history in the making, considering that the claim was more than 100 years old.
“We dedicate this victory to all those who passed including the Tafas, the Mchasas, the Ndlamlas and all AmaMpondomise,” said Tshitshi.
He said they were all celebrating the decision and that the next step was for the rightful heir in terms of tradition to be selected and to take the throne.
The AmaMpondomise were stripped of their throne in 1904 after King Mhlontlo was accused of killing a white Qumbu magistrate, Hamilton Hope, and two white police officers during the Mpondomise Revolt in 1880-81.
Although Mhlontlo was acquitted of the murder charge, he lost his kingship by administrative action in about 1904.
The AmaMpondomise nation’s hopes were again dashed when the Nhlapo Commission found in 2005 that they had no claim to a kingship.
The claim to a throne was then taken up by the Tolo Commission, which in 2017 also found that the AmaMpondomise had no kingship.
Passing judgment, Brooks said the applicant, head of the AmaMpondomise Luzuko Matiwane, had alleged that the Tolo Commission failed to afford the AmaMpondomise sufficient opportunity to make representations before it.
“The conclusion reached upon a consideration of the material placed before the court is that the Tolo Commission failed to investigate claims relating to AmaMpondomise kingship in a manner which was sufficiently scholarly, logical and fair and its reports and recommendations are invalid and ought to be set aside,” said Brooks.
With regard to the decision taken by former president Jacob Zuma to not recognise the kingship, Brooks said Zuma based his decision on the recommendations of the Tolo Commission, which were invalid. “The decision taken by the former president of South Africa... in respect of AmaMpondomise kingship is hereby reviewed and set aside,” said Brooks.
The judge said since the return of Mhlontlo to Qumbu in 1906, the AmaMpondomise had appealed for the reinstatement of their kingship.
Brooks also ordered that President Cyril Ramaphosa, the minister of co-operative governance & traditional affairs, the government and the commissioner of traditional leaders must pay the costs of the application, including costs of two counsel.
The AmaMpondomise were dealt a major blow when the Tolo Commission ruled they never had a kingship.
The commission, led by Bagudi Tolo, found that AmaMpondomise were a traditional community and not a kingdom.
The news, which angered AmaMpondomise, was delivered to them by co-operative governance & traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa and presented by Abram Sithole, who was the chief executive of the Tolo Commission.
This was the second view of a commission in six years to dismiss the AmaMpondomise’s claim to a kingship.
In 2010 the Tolo Commission’s predecessor in law, the Nhlapo Commission, made similar findings.
But AmaMpondomise challenged the commission’s findings in the Mthatha high court and in December 2015 the court ordered the commission to restart the investigation after it found it had disregarded some historic and academic information.
At the time the court made no finding on the issue of whether the AmaMpondomise qualified to have a kingship...