Royal family slams ANC MP for 'trying to hijack the dynasty'
Mpapatla Bakhoma Modjadji said Motshekga had turned Princess Masalanabo against the royal family and used the 15-year-old as a fundraising tool since the children’s court gave him custody in September 2017.
He has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa seeking intervention to bring the princess to the royal household at Khetlhakoni Village outside Modjadjiskloof, and stop “unnecessary confusion” caused by “someone who involves himself in things that do not concern him nor is he part of this dynasty”.
However, Motshekga maintained that he would not hand over Princess Masalanabo to the royal family unless ordered by the court.
“I have no legal authority to give custody of the minor queen to anyone as she was placed in my care by the order of court. Anyone who wants custody must approach the children’s court and I shall abide by the decision of the court,” he said.
Princess Masalanabo is the child of the late Queen Makobo Modjadji V1 who died in 2005 when she (Masalanabo) was 6 months old.
Masalanabo’s father, former Tzaneen municipal manager David Mogale, died in 2014 after a protracted battle with the Modjadji royal family over Princess Masalanabo’s custody.
Official correspondence shows that Mpapatla fired Motshekga as Modjadji royal family’s legal advisor three weeks ago, citing “poor working relations”.
Motshekga, who was appointed legal advisor by Mpapatla’s grandmother, Queen Mokope V, in 1996, claims he resigned to focus on his parliamentary work.
In an interview with Sunday Independent, Mpapatla accused Motshekga of disrespecting him and the royal council by doing as he pleased with Princess Masalanabo, and even pushing for the application for a queenship certificate before her inauguration.
The ANC MP was also accused of establishing parallel offices in the name of the Modjadji dynasty and failing to bring Princess Masalanabo to the royal household to be with her family during the school holidays as per the court order.
In addition, Prince Mpapatla said Motshekga had turned Princess Masalanabo against her brother, Prince Lekukela, established an office in her name in Midrand and took her to the ANC’s January 8 celebrations in Kimberly without permission.
He added that the ANC top brass also established a close relationship between the young princess and Julia Mabale, whose family fell out with the Modjadjis many years ago over queenship disputes.
“Remember, Masalanabo is not Motshekga’s child. Motshekga must even ask me which school to take her to. He must not ask Julia or anybody else. The court might have given him the child. But the court didn’t give him the dynasty,” said Mpapatla.
In his response sent to Ramaphosa following Mpapatla’s complaint, Motshekga conceded that he took Princess Masalanabo to public occasions and opened an office for her but denied any wrong-doing.
“My accusers are a patriarchal faction which is planning to end the female Modjadji dynasty and revive it under the kingship of Prince Mpapatla Bakhoma Modjadji, contrary to Balobedu spiritual and customary laws,” Motshekga said.
“It is absurd to suggest that I am plotting to take over the Modjadji queenship of Balobedu royal nation of the Modjadji dynasty.
"I was appointed by Queen Mokope Modjadji V in 1996 as her legal advisor and that of the Balobedu royal nation and instructed to apply for the restoration of the Modjadji queenship and to lodge claims for the restitution of her national territory.”
Motshekga’s five-page response was copied to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina, Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha and ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe.
He accused the Modjadji royal family of neglecting Princess Masalanabo’s maintenance, education, housing and transportation despite receiving “an actual grant” of R6 million a year from the government for the queenship.
Motshekga insisted that his plea for intervention from Mathabatha and former Limpopo Cogta MEC Jerry Ndou fell on deaf ears.
“The Motshekga family is owed more than R1m by the Limpopo provincial government and the Modjadji traditional authority in respect of the education and well-being of the child. Despite repeated requests for reimbursement, nothing has been paid,” he added.
He said that “it is not true” that Princess Masalanabo had to “grow up with the royal siblings of her age to be preparing to select her own council in future”.
Motshekga confirmed taking the young princess to Mabale, whom he described as her close relative, because “no one is better qualified than Mrs Julia Mabale (born Mokoto) to initiate the minor queen into Balobedu spiritual and cultural practices”.
He also said that he took Princess Masalanabo to a prayer meeting at the invitation of businessman Patrice Motsepe and his wife, Precious.
The Motsepe Foundation later “gave her a Christmas present of R150 000 which was disclosed to chieftainess Sekgopo and Mothapo and it is banked in her own name. I have no access to it,” said Motshekga.
Mpapatla confirmed that he authorised the opening of a trust account to cater for Princess Masalanabo’s educational needs but denied sanctioning new queenship offices in Gauteng.
“The president hasn’t replied to us, we don’t know when he will reply, but we won’t stop. We have to fight this.”