Venda princess gets interdict to halt uncle’s coronation

Thohoyandou – A VhaVenda princess eyeing the throne has secured a high court interdict preventing her uncle from being crowned king, pending a review of the decision.

On Friday, Thohoyandou High Court Judge Khami Makhafola said he was satisfied that the matter was urgent, and granted the interdict.

Masindi Mphephu, 24, was challenging President Jacob Zuma’s decision to recognise her uncle, Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, as king. He would have been crowned next Friday.

Mphephu’s lawyer, Dali Mpofu, argued that preventing her from ascending to the throne because she is a woman was unconstitutional.

Mpofu said Masindi was being denied her right to be queen because of her gender.

Ishmael Semenya, for Zuma and Mphephu, argued that Masindi would not suffer any prejudice if the coronation proceeded, as the law made a provision for dethroning a wrongfully-endorsed king or queen.

VhaVenda spokesperson Jackson Mafunzwaini said they would abide by the court’s decision.

“It is not over. We are going to fight legally. A lot will happen at the review,” he said.

Masindi’s cousin, Humbulani Mphephu, said they were happythat  justice had prevailed.

The Mphephu royal family had argued that women could not rule.

The Nhlapho commission of inquiry, which completed its work in 2010, recognised the VhaVenda and six others as legitimate traditional royal houses.

It was meant to have investigated the VhaVenda kingship dispute, but was replaced in 2011 by the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims. Unlike the Nhlapho commission, it only had the power to make recommendations. The decision-making function was passed to government.

Zuma recognised Ramabulana as king in 2012.