Inkosi Khayelihle Mathaba has died in a car crash in Zululand.

Durban - Inkosi Khayelihle Mathaba, the controversial traditional leader involved in long spats over land with northern KwaZulu-Natal farmers, has died in a car crash in Zululand.

The accident happened on the R66 in Nkwalini, outside Melmoth on Saturday, but his body was found only on Sunday morning in his car, which had been obscured by trees.

Transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said Mathaba’s vehicle had crashed on a bend.

“Inkosi was the only occupant in the car when the accident happened at around 11.30pm on Saturday night,” said Ncalane.

The accident happened close to where seven Zulu maidens were killed when their bus crashed when they were returning from the Reed Dance last year.

Mathaba was born in Mtunzini near Richards Bay. He held a diploma in administration from the University of Zululand.

A member of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial House of Traditional Leaders and a former IFP member of the provincial legislature, Mathaba was frequently in the spotlight for his land claim controversies.

In 2013, the Bhekamafa Community Trust took him to court, accusing him of misappropriating R14 million linked to a land claim.

Members of the community also accused him of violence and victimisation.

Mathaba was also determined to remove the Dunn farming clan from their land, something he had pushed for since the 1990s.

The Dunns inherited the land from their ancestor, John Dunn, who was an aide of King Cetshwayo kaMpande in the 1870s.

When the matriarch of the clan, Pat Dunn, died in April, KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas was reported as saying she was “courageous and brave” for living with Mathaba’s death threats.

The Mercury