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A smile from SA's first woman chief

By unknown | Sep 01, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The former regent of the Valoyi tribe, Sydwell N'wamitwa, chickened out of his threat to disrupt the inauguration jamboree of his cousin, Felia N'wamitwa.

The shindig, which was cordoned off by a contingency of armed security guards and police, was held without any violent incidents on Friday.

The newly-inaugurated chief will rule an estimated 800000 N'wamitwa people in Tzaneen, Limpopo.

But for the group, led by her cousin Sydwell, the fight for the chieftaincy is not yet over.

The group said yesterday Felia would lead only a particular group of people, not the whole N'wamitwa clan.

A spokesman for Sydwell, Ishmael Risiva, said the rightful chief for the Valoyi tribe had not yet been inaugurated.

"We need a chief that has the aspirations of all her subjects at heart and not one who jumps into the limelight while her community is still divided," Risiva said.

"If she were the rightful chief she would have created unity among her subjects before the inauguration."

Despite all the criticism Felia, 66, who is a mother of three, member of Parliament and an ANC bigwig, put on a huge smile when she accepted the crown.

She was wearing a leopard skin given to her by her two uncles, Samson N'wamitwa and Hosi Makgoba.

They were flanked by her three sisters, director-general of Limpopo government Hlamalani Nelly Manzini, Catharine N'wamitwa and Bassie Ngobeni.

Limpopo Premier Sello Moloto presented her with two certificates - one recognising her as the chief of the Valoyi tribe and the second for powers to rule and acceptance into the House of Traditional Leaders.

She was also presented with a bakkie by Isuzu Truck World and a royal chair by the Limpopo government.

In her acceptance speech Felia said: "I am ready to lead my people and to follow in the footsteps of my late father, Chief Fofoza N'wamitwa, and to deliver services to my subjects with precision and distinction."

Her road to the chieftaincy was not rosy after her cousin Sydwell claimed the chieftaincy in 2001.

Felia is the first daughter of the late chief of the Valoyi tribe, Chief N'wamitwa, who died in 1968.

After Fofoza's death his younger brother Richard Kekeshe N'wamitwa acted in the position until he died in November 2001.

His son Sydwell wanted to take over the chieftaincy, but was prohibited from doing so by the royal family and council.

In 2002 Sydwell obtained an urgent court order to stop the inauguration.

The battle for the chieftaincy was ultimately decided by a court of law.

Felia lost both in the Pretoria high court and the Bloemfontein Court of Appeas, but won in the Constitutional Court seven weeks ago.

She is now the country's first recognised female chief.


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