We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Prince Simakade kaZwelithini takes claim to the throne to the high court

'I am the rightful heir to the throne of the Zulu nation through the custom of ukufakwa esiswini'

Prince Simakade kaZwelithini Zulu is adamant he is the rightful amaZulu king.
Prince Simakade kaZwelithini Zulu is adamant he is the rightful amaZulu king.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Prince Simakade kaZwelithini says his father, the late king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, set him up to be the next king by affiliating him with the Great Wife, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, through custom that rendered him her son.

He says throughout his life he has been regarded by the royal family as the rightful heir to the throne.

In a Gauteng High Court application to review and overrule three decisions that led to King Misuzulu kaZwelithini's ascendance, King Zwelithini's first-born son wants the court to set aside:

  • A meeting at which the now king, Misuzulu, was nominated as the rightful heir to the Zulu throne,
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to recognise King Misuzulu as king of the amaZulu, and
  • Last month's traditional coronation of King Misuzulu.

In his founding affidavit, the prince contends the Great Wife acknowledged him as her first-born, despite him not being her biological child.

“One of the Zulu customs that has relevance in this application and which relates to the identification of an heir under customary law is the custom of ukufakwa esiswini.

"[This custom] is an important instrument through which the head of the family (in this instance Isilo) arranges his family,” he said.

The direct translation of ukufakwa esiswini is “placement of the baby in the womb or stomach”.

The prince says this means the woman in whose womb or stomach the child is placed technically and customarily becomes that child's mother. He adds that it does not matter whether the biological mother is alive or deceased, in the same homestead or married to the family.

The custom was performed for the prince and he was “placed in the womb” of Queen Mantfombi at age 11.

Queen Mantfombi was King Misuzulu’s biological mother.

The prince cited the case of King Cetshwayo, who succeeded his father, King Mpande, even though he was born out of wedlock. Prince Simakade said the same ritual was performed for King Cetshwayo.

The founding affidavit explains that the ceremony is officiated by slaughtering to welcome the child, who becomes a member of the family and the offspring of the mother in whose womb the child is placed.

“Pursuant to ukufakwa esiswini, for all intents and purposes under customary law, the child belongs to the house with which he or she has been affiliated and takes his or her rightful place in order of age with any other children of that house.

“These children would have the same status, rights and obligations enjoyed by and imposed upon the biological children of the wife with whose house they have been affiliated,” reads the affidavit.

Prince Simakade, born out of wedlock, was affiliated with the house of the late queen,, from where the heir to the throne should customarily come.

He says this accords him the same rights and obligations as an oldest biological son of the Great Wife.

The 52-year-old asked the court to apply these principles to determine whether the recognition of his younger brother, King Misuzulu, the first-born son of the Great Wife, as heir to the throne is in line with Zulu customary law.

“I submit ... that it was not ... I am the rightful heir to the throne of the Zulu nation or kingship, through the custom of ukufakwa esiswini,” he said.

He was moved away from his biological mother to the queen's palace of Kwakhangela.

The slaughter took place and his biological mother was compensated with three cattle.

“I developed a maternal relationship with the late queen ... she became my mother and her biological children my siblings,” he said.

To bolster his argument, the prince highlighted a quote from Queen Mantfombi's book, Inhlendla ka Zulu, that she considered him her first born.

“The quote says: 'My eldest son Simakade, born out of wedlock by Duduzile Gugulethu, the daughter of his majesty the king's induna, Mr Mathenjwa.”

“In these circumstances there can respectfully be no dispute about my position,” he added.

The prince also noted “an act widely viewed as a sign of anointment that he was the heir” of a lucky wrist charm made of cow intestine by the late King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Prince Simakade said he was also nominated as heir of Isilo in a properly constituted family meeting. He has also performed the traditional coronation of entering the kraal. However, only one king is recognised by the government and that is King Misuzulu.

“I place before the court a full account of the circumstances and factors, and the customary law, in terms in which it is clear I am the only lawful Isilo and the royal family, properly constituted, has correctly identified me as such,” he concluded.


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.