I haven’f followed this story personally but are working to get Masindi herself to tell us more on this issue. According to what is on the papers, Chief Toni Mphephu was installed as a regent/proxy/temporary or an adviser, because the rightful candidate (Masindi) was still young. BUT according to Sunday Times:
Masindi Mphephu, 24, is the only legitimate child of former king Khosikhulu Tshimangadzo Mphephu, who died in a car crash in 1997 when Masindi was six years old.
When she turned 18 in 2010, instead of installing her as monarch, the royal family council nominated the regent, her uncle Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, as king.
Among their reasons was that the VhaVenda have never had a woman leader – and never should.
Papers have been submitted to the High Court in Thohoyandou and a trial date has yet to be set.
Masindi wants the court to set aside a decision made by President Jacob Zuma in 2012 recognising Toni as king.
The president, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen and Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha are among the eight respondents.
“I want to change the history of the VhaVenda nation and become the first woman to rule,” said Masindi, whose father ruled under the name Dimbanyika.
“I am the rightful heir to the throne. I am merely fighting for what is rightfully mine.”
But the Mphephu royal family argue in papers that:
• Succession to the throne is not automatic;
• Masindi was born three years before her father was made king, which makes her ineligible for the throne;
• No lobolo was paid for Masindi’s mother, which also means she is not eligible; and
• In the VhaVenda nation, a woman does not reign.
Masindi’s father and Toni were sons of the late chief Patrick Mphephu, from different mothers.
Masindi’s claim is supported by her uncle, Mbulaheni Charles Mphephu.
Charles says in papers that Toni was appointed as regent until Masindi was old enough to take on the throne.
Charles argues that should Masindi not be considered for the position, he should be next in line as Patrick’s eldest son.
The claim has been rubbished by the chairman of the Mphephu royal family, David Mavhungu Mphephu.
“In the Mphephu custom and culture there has never been a child or successor who has demanded kingship.
“What the applicants have done is unheard of.
“Royal family/council members are the only people who must argue a case of a potential successor.
“They must do so in a special closed meeting.
“Potential successors and children are not allowed in the meeting.”
Masindi said this week that soon after she began asking to be made queen in 2012, she and her mother were kicked out of the royal compound. Her mother died in 2013. Masindi lives in Pretoria.
“My uncle [Toni] and I no longer talk. He has stopped paying my fees for my studies and I am banned from the royal compound.”
The VhaVenda royal house was one of seven recognised by the government after the completion of the Nhlapo commission of inquiry in 2010.
The commission was to investigate further to determine the rightful monarch, but before it could do so, Zuma announced that Toni was king.
Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders chairman Kgosi Malesela Dikgale said: “Our constitution say we shouldn’t discriminate against anyone, but the royal family has to decide on who is suitable for the job.”
An expert on VhaVenda culture, who did not want to be named, said Masindi could take the throne if she could prove that her mother, Fulufhelo Mphephu, came from royalty, had undergone Thondo (initiation for a woman set to marry the king) and was a Dzekiso wife – meaning the sisters of the late Dimbanyika had paid lobolo for her.