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THAT HOMESTEAD BELONGS TO ME, SAYS CJ

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MBANGWENI – In a bid to retain his grip on a homestead that has now become a centre of controversy, Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala has dropped a bombshell; he has reportedly claimed the residence also belongs to him.

The head of the judiciary is alleged to have told Mbangweni community leaders that the homestead was handed over to him by Princess Ngebeti’s husband, the late former Cabinet Minister Mhambi Mnisi, about 22 years ago. The claims by Maphalala took the princess and her family by surprise on Saturday when minutes of a meeting between the CJ and the inner council of Mbangweni Royal kraal were read. Mbangweni Headman Peter Mamba confirmed that the inner council of Mbangweni Royal Kraal met the CJ over the past week and requested him to give a full disclosure of the circumstances surrounding his occupancy of the homestead that is believed to have been built by princess Ngebeti’s Mnisi family in the 1960s.

Maphalala is alleged to have told the Mbangweni inner council at the meeting that he personally settled the land deal with the late former cabinet minister in 1995, following which he acquired full rights of ownership of the residence through the traditional khonta system, by paying the customary beast at the Mbangweni Royal Kraal in 1997.
The bombshell prompted the inner council to instruct the princess to bring along Mnisi’s firstborn son, Makhosi (Chief of Mantjolo) in their next meeting scheduled for Saturday, where the CJ is expected to square up with the royal family member over the disputed homestead.

The instruction to feature Makhosi in the talks about the ownership of the disputed homestead follows the persistence by the CJ, who allegedly told the inner council that he would only be comfortable stating his side of the story in the presence of the late Mnisi’s firstborn son.
However, it was not immediately clear why Mnisi’s name was being dragged into the row. Efforts to get comment from Mnisi’s elder son were not successful yesterday.
Though the matter is yet to be argued at the Mbangweni Royal Kraal, the princess and her family have already rubbished the claims of ownership by the CJ.

Princess Ngebeti said the allegations were absurd because to her knowledge, the CJ got to occupy the homestead after he personally approached her, seeking for a place to accommodate one of his wives.
The senior royal family member asserted that she would fight for what rightfully belongs to her. In fact, the emotional princess challenged the inner council to call the CJ right away in order for the matter to be dealt with forthwith. She told them she was also prepared to call her husband’s firstborn son, Makhosi, as per the CJ’s wish.


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