Rivals battle for throne

Selby Makgotho

Selby Makgotho

The burial of King Rhyne Thulare Sekhukhune III of Limpopo, pictured, has opened a can of worms.

Apparently a report identifying him as the true monarch of the Bapedi ba-ga Sekhukhune was swept under the carpet.

According to sources the Limpopo provincial government has been sitting on recommendations made by the Ralushai Commission, appointed by former premier Ngoako Ramathlodi, confirming that Thulare was the legitimate king of the Sekhukhune people.

The findings of the commission were never made public, apparently because the government feared civil unrest should it be revealed that Thulare was indeed the rightful king of the Sekhukhune kingdom.

Thulare's battle started in 1965 when he was supposed to ascend the throne. His mother, Mankopodi, was asked to take over until he finished school.

Mankopodi was the most senior wife of the extended Sekhukhune family and she led the tribe between 1965 and 1974.

In 1974 the then royal council approached Thulare, who was a student at the University of the North asking him to take over.

When he went to Mohlaletse to take up his position he discovered the royal family wracked with tension and was unable to assume power.

This was despite having been registered as King Sekhukhune III in the then commissioner's office in Schoonoord, Sekhukhune, on December 24 1946, two days after his birth.

In 1976 Thulare found himself a job in the Germiston magistrates' court as a clerk. He later moved to the Johannesburg magistrates' court, where he worked until 1989.

Also in 1976 the royal council approached Kenneth, Thulare's half-brother, to take up the position of king. Kenneth, popularly known as KK, did not hesitate and he has been acting as paramount chief since 1976.

In 1989, when Thulare came back, the then Lebowa government conferred on him the status of king, but KK challenged him in court and won.

The court questioned the procedure of removing KK as king and said the royal council had not been fair to him. He would retain his position.

Thulare became a displaced person. With no formal job he struggled to support his family of four wives and 14 children.