Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase. Archive photo.

Thovhele Tshivhase denies ignoring a court order


The dust has not yet settled in Phiphidi over the installation of two different vhamusandas and the alleged interference of one of the most senior Vhavenda leaders, Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase. Tshivhase removed the incumbent installed by the royal family in Phiphidi and replaced him with his own candidate two weeks ago. The royal family is opposing this step, and the matter is currently being contested in the High Court.

On 6 April this year, Takalani Dion Tshivhase was installed as the new vhamusanda at Phiphidi. This appointment was supported by the royal family and the local makhadzi, Ndihone Tshimangadzo Tshivhase. But, as is the case with so many leadership positions in Venda, not everyone agreed with this appointment, and some felt that his brother, Mpho Tshivhase, should be the new leader.

That was when Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase started to intervene. He told Vho Makhadzi Ndihone that Takalani was not the correctly appointed traditional leader. “He was wrongfully installed in place of his brother, who is the rightful heir of the Phiphidi people,” he said. 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.

The Phiphidi-based royal family (the Denga family) did not agree and opted to ask the High Court to stop Kennedy Tshivhase from appointing another candidate. The case served before acting judge Sisinyana Mthimkulu.

While the case was pending, Mailausumbwa Tshivhase indicated that he would go ahead with the installation of what he believed to be the correct incumbent. This was scheduled to take place on Freedom Day, 27 April.

Tshimangadzo Tshivhase then approached the High Court on 25 April and asked for an urgent interdict to stop Kennedy Tshivhase from going ahead with plans to install another incumbent. The application served before Judge AML Phathudi, who 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. Judge Phathudi mentioned that such a ruling could be expected on 6 May, but it could also be on another date.

On 26 April, a day after the urgent application had served before Judge Phathudi, a ruling was made in the first case filed by the Denga Tshivhase royal family. Judge Mthimkulu ruled that the matter was not urgent and struck it from the roll.

The rulings in the two court cases, albeit linked, caused a lot of confusion. The Kennedy Tshivhase camp saw this as a green light to continue with the installation of Mpho Tshivhase on 27 April. The royal family at Phiphidi was not keen on this happening and refused to allow such a ceremony to take place at the royal kraal. The ceremony was later held in an open field.

Mailausumbwa Tshivhase was afterwards accused of ignoring court processes when he opted to continue with the installation of a new vhamusanda. These accusations were also repeated when Limpopo Mirror reported on the feud in last week’s edition.

The insinuation that one of the most senior leaders of the Vhavenda had ignored a judge’s order did not go down well with Kennedy Tshivhase. His lawyer, Vhonani Nemakanga, sent a letter to the newspaper on Monday, demanding an apology and a retraction. Nemakanga argued that once Judge Mthimkulu had made a ruling in the original case, the conditions set by Judge Phathudi had become obsolete. Thus they were, according to him, within their rights to continue with the installation.

His sentiments are not shared by advocate Joseph Themeli, who represents the royal family of Phiphidi. In a telephonic interview earlier this week, he said that the original case was still pending and had merely been struck off the urgent roll but still needed to be heard and the merits needed to be decided on.

Themeli said that they did not agree with Judge Mthimkulu’s ruling and they had filed an appeal the same day she had opted to remove it from the urgent roll. According to him, that meant that the status quo remained and that the conditions set by Judge Phathudi were still in place.

Vho makhadzi Ndihone Tshimangadzo Tshivhase was also adamant that no new vhamusanda could be installed. They will challenge Mpho Tshivhase’s installation in court. She reiterated 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.



Date:10 May 2024

By: Anton van Zyl

Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.

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