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Zulu royal family court battle: 5 key points from King Misuzulu defence team

His Majesty King Misuzulu Zulu during the memorial service of the late regent queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu in Nongoma. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

His Majesty King Misuzulu Zulu during the memorial service of the late regent queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu in Nongoma. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 11, 2022


Durban - The eagerly awaited court case involving members of the Zulu royal family will get underway on Tuesday morning at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The case was supposed to be heard in December last year, but it was pushed back when KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president, Isaac Madondo, fell sick.

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The case is now in three parts after Prince Mbonisi, who wanted to stop the rumoured coronation of King Misuzulu, was asked to join the queue and make his matter urgent. Primarily, the case is about Queen Sibongile Dlamini-Zulu, who wants to inherit 50 percent of the estate of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini because they were married in civil rites, and she is the first wife.

On the other hand, the queen’s daughters, Princess Ntandoyenkosi and Ntombizosuth Zulu, want the king’s will declared null and void because the signature on it was forged, they claim.

To defend the matter, King Misuzulu and his traditional prime minister, Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, have assembled a legal team that include celebrated Durban legal eagle, Advocate Griffiths Madonsela and Advocate Musa Ntsibande.

Here are five points they have already put forward in their consolidated heads of argument, which were supplemented after the queen and her daughters filed supplementary affidavits to bolster their case.

1. Queen's marriage has no bearing on succession issue

The King’s lawyers say there is no discernible correlation between the marriage issue and the challenging of the will, on the one hand, and the succession to the throne.

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They say the interdict (to stall everything, including the coronation until the matter has been) sought in the Queen’s application will protect nothing.

"This is to say that the right (prima facie or clear right) which the applicant Queen asserts is not one that is worthy of protection by an interdict. The succession matter is separate matter. The question of the succession to the throne is to be determined with reference to self-standing rules, separate and distinct from those pertaining to the validity of the Queen’s marriages or the late King’s will.

"The succession issue involves and is dependent upon a “confluences of a number of factors”. It is a matter determined by customary law. Accordingly, the decision of this court on the marriage issue or the impeachment of the late King’s will – now or in the future proceedings – has no bearing whatsoever on the succession dispute."

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2. Queen’s marriage to late King is moot

For the other part, the marriage issue is moot; and the court should, in exercise of its discretion, decline to entertain it. The applicant Queen has gone nowhere to meeting the double-barrel hurdle of convincing the Court to hear a case which is both moot and in respect of which discretionary declaratory relief is sought.

"The applicant Queen faces no prejudice and no reasonable apprehension of harm to her proprietary interests should the declaratory relief not be granted. This is to say, she has satisfactory alternative remedies available to her – to lay a claim with the executor. In any event, the marriage issue is riddled with disputes of facts, with the result that it falls to be referred to trial or oral evidence," the King says in his papers.

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3. The issue of the validity of the late King’s will is a red herring.

According to the de facto King and his lawyers, the issue of the late King’s will is a none-issue.

“The issue of the late King’s will is similarly moot. It has been subsumed by the late King’s previous will of 2014 (which is not impeached). In any event, on the issue of the impeachment of the 2016 will, there are also material disputes of facts,” reads the consolidated heads of arguments.

4. Misuzulu is king as identified by royal family

As the man who led the process to have Misuzulu named as the next king, Buthelezi says the family has already spoken.

“On the Zulu customary law of succession, the evidence adduced by the opposing respondents is incontrovertible: the Royal Family has already spoken and identified King Misuzulu as the successor to the throne.There is no dispute, alleged or established, which points in any other direction. The belated attempts by the applicants – in their last-minute application to lead further evidence – to assert a veneer of a dispute “amongst members of the Royal family as to the identity of the successor to the throne”– are unavailing.

"The inevitable consequence is that there is no dispute for the Premier or the President to investigate or to be referred back to the Zulu Royal Family for reconsideration and resolution, in terms of section 8(4) of the Khoi-San Act.15 This is to say, the interdict does not get off the starting blocks.”

5. Prince Simakade is no contender for throne

With Prince Mbonisi having joined the party, in the court papers Buthelezi, while recounting the chronology of events that led to the naming of King Misuzulu.

He says the first-born son of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini publicly declined the nomination in May last year. As such, Prince Mbonisi cannot claim there is a dispute over who should be the next king when there is no other candidate to contest for the throne.

"Prince Simakade declined eligibility for succession ... and on 14 May 2021, the Royal Family decision was taken."