Kgagudi Kenneth Sekhukhune

THE fight for leadership of the Bapedi nation is set for another court battle after the acting king filed papers in the Pretoria High Court challenging a ruling that he must step down.

Kgoshikgolo Kgagudi Kenneth Sekhukhune filed papers on March 20, seeking a review and the setting aside of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims findings that Victor Thulare was the rightful heir to the Bapedi throne.

That decision was rubber- stamped by the court earlier in the month when Judge Dunstan Mlambo found that the commission used the customs and customary laws of the Bapedi nation, and no argument was raised to suggest it overlooked anything. 

He then ruled that Sekhukhune had no basis to refuse to step down and for Thulare to ascend the throne.

In his papers, Sekhukhune said he wanted to preserve his position and overturn the commission’s findings. He questioned its competence to entertain Thulare’s claim.

“The determinations sought renders it prudent I set out in some detail the factual historical background, as well as the legal factual matrix giving rise to the contested issues.”

The context he gave painted a picture of Rhyane Thulare, Victor’s father, having abdicated his post and him being put in the position.

According to Sekhukhune, problems started when Thulare’s father Morwamoche died and his niece was too young to take over.

Instead, his mother was made the regent until Rhyane came of age. However, divisions emerged. One called for Victor to take over but he refused to do so without his mother being consulted and agreeing to step down.

Violence persisted and she was chased out of the village. Rhyane also moved to Seshego but he was later asked to return to lead the nation, but it is said he fetched his mother.

“This led to an impasse especially as the anti-Mankopodi faction was not in favour of any further dealings with her. In view of this impasse, especially of Rhyne Thulare’s refusal to take over the Bokgosi reins from his mother, a faction of the Bakgoma and Bakgomana took a decision that Rhyne Thulare had abdicated and that KK Sekhukhune be appointed as acting Kgosikgolo,” the papers said.

Sekhukhune has occupied the position since 1976 but was challenged in 1986 by Rhyane, who won the fight in 1989 against his brother, but the matter has continued in courts.

Sekhukhune challenged Rhyne again in court in 1994 and stopped a process to crown him king. Lengthy court battles concluded in 2000 with Sekhukhune emerging victorious.

The commission found he was never supposed to have occupied the position in the first place. Rhyane died in 2007.

The papers also raised concerns with Victor’s approach.

They argued that Victor could not be regarded as Rhyane’s privy in the litigation with Sekhukhune as he was not asserting his father’s claim to the chieftaincy but his own.

The Sunday Independent