Mpho Tshivhase (left) was installed as new senior traditional leader by Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase. Photo: Kaizer Nengovhela. On 6 April this year, Takalani Dion Tshivhase (right) was installed as the new Vhamusanda at Phiphidi. Photo supplied.

Who is the rightful leader of Phiphidi?


An ugly leadership war is raging in Phiphidi village between the local royal family and one of the most senior Vhavenda leaders, Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase. On Saturday, Tshivhase seemingly ignored a High Court order and proceeded to install his own traditional leader at Phiphidi.

The leadership feud has been brewing for quite some time. On 6 April this year, Takalani Dion Tshivhase was installed as the new Vhamusanda. This followed a period of roughly four years during which the community had no permanent senior traditional leader. The new traditional leader was given the royal name “Mphathiseni Dumbutshena” and enjoyed the support of the local makhadzi, Ndihone Tshimangadzo Tshivhase.

The new appointment, however, did not please Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase. He stripped the newly appointed leader of his powers and announced that a new leader would be appointed on Freedom Day (27 April) at Phiphidi. In an interview, he said that the Tshivhase royal family did not recognise Takalani as a traditional leader. “He was wrongfully installed in place of his brother, who is the rightful heir of the Phiphidi people.” One of their arguments is that Takalani Dion Tshivhase was not born from a dzekiso wife and thus not eligible to become a senior traditional leader.

When it became clear that Kennedy Tshivhase would go ahead with plans to install a new leader, the royal family at Phiphidi approached the High Court for relief. The proceedings in the High Court caused confusion because two cases were seemingly filed.

On Thursday, 25 April, Judge AML Phathudi ruled on an urgent application brought by Tshimangadzo Tshivhase. He instructed the first to the seventh respondents (which include Kennedy Tshivhase and the Tshivhase Royal Council) not to conduct any activity pre-empting a ruling on the matter on 6 May. The exact details of the case referred to were not available at the time of our going to press, but this is believed to concern the leadership feud at Phiphidi.

On Friday, 26 April, a second application was filed by the Denga Tshivhase Royal Family, with Tshimangadzo Tshivhase and Takalani Dion Tshivhase listed as second and third applicants. The respondents include Midiyavhathu Kennedy Tshivhase. The matter was heard before acting judge Sisinyana Mthimkulu, but she dismissed it for lack of urgency.

Despite the order made by Judge Phathudi on 25 April, the installation of a new Vhamusanda on 27 April continued. Mpho Tshivhase was installed as the new traditional leader of Phiphidi and given a new name and the title of Vhamusanda Vho Raluswielo.

A member of the local community, who did not want his name mentioned, said the function had been organised rather haphazardly. At first, it was supposed to be held at the royal palace, but after they were shown the interdict, the group left. The ceremony was later held in an open field.

The resident also said that the local residents were very sceptical about what was happening. Rumours purport that Kennedy Tshivhase ignores the Phiphidi royal family’s wishes and simply imposes his own will.

Vhomakhadzi Ndihone Tshimangadzo Tshivhase did not want to expand on the issue and said that such matters should not be discussed in the media or settled in court. She said the correct channels had to be followed, and it should be discussed during a gathering of the relevant members of the royal family. She said that no single individual person appointed a new chief, as this was the responsibility of the royal family.

She explained that, according to Venda culture, the chieftaincy (vhuhosi) is the property of the family, and the chief is the manager of that property. When the chief passes away, the property goes back to the family. “The appointment of the successor will thus be the responsibility of the royal family,” she said.

Vhomakhadzi denied that Takalani was not born from the dzekiso wife. She said that they were going to challenge the installation of Mpho as traditional leader in the Thohoyandou High Court.


Date:03 May 2024

By: Kaizer Nengovhela

Kaizer Nengovhela started writing stories for Limpopo Mirror in 2000. Prior to that he had a five year stint at Phala-Phala FM as sports presenter. In 2005 Kaizer received an award from the province's premier as Best Sports Presenter. The same year he was also nominated as Best Sports Reporter by the Makhado Municipality. Kaizer was awarded the Mathatha Tsedu award in 2014.

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