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MAPHALALENI – The life of two widows has become a living hell at the hands of the authorities at Maphalaleni, under Chief Mashila.

This comes after the widows reported their plight, whereby their land was taken from them by the umphakatsi, to the Eswatini courts and regional administrator (RA). Such was considered as sabotage by the royal kraal, which fined the widows four cattle. Raising the fine has been an uphill battle for the two widows, which has subjected them to harsh treatment by the authorities. The widows are over 80 years old and were married to Magagula twin brothers. Their land is adjacent to each other.


According to one of the family members, who requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter and continuous victimisation, they were now being denied services by the umphakatsi due to the land grabbing issue relating to the widows. The family member said they were told by the royal kraal that they would be offered services the day they paid the fine. Narrating how the trouble began, the family member stated that someone was sent by the chief to request a piece of land but was told that they could not attend to him as there was an ongoing ceremony and would engage him after they were finished with it. He said the chief’s messenger was told to come after the gathering. This, he said, did not happen as after a few months, they saw senior members of the community pegging a portion of the land. Following that no one in the family had been approached, the members of the family resolved to remove the pegs.

He stated that immediately thereafter, they were summoned by the authorities, where they were charged and fined a cow. Despite being charged and fined, the family said they wanted an audience with the person who was offered the land. Instead of getting an audience, they said the umphakatsi ordered that they be fined four cattle. The fine was for removing the pegs and reporting the umphakatsi the to higher authorities, being ndabazabantu and the RA. In an interview with Gogo Grace Vilakati, one of the widows, she said every cent they received, went to umphakatsi. Vilakati said they had become slaves in their own land. She said the umphakatsi decided to take the land from them, taking advantage of the fact that they were old and helpless. She said instead of the cattle, they paid E3 200, which was paid by four homesteads belonging to the Magagula family, each paying E800. She said it was a commitment fee for the cattle which they were fined. “We are still trying to raise the funds for the four cattle,” she said.

Vilakati said their land was taken from them and given to a Zion Christian Church (ZCC) preacher. She said they had decided to stop fighting over the land, as they were not getting any assistance anywhere they tried. Reached for comment, Maphalaleni Indvuna Elphas Mhlanga acknowledged that they were aware of the matter. However, Mhlanga said they would not respond to any comment but would seek counsel from the chief. He made a private call to the chief and returned to report that he wanted to know if this publication was representing the courts and that the RA had issued a ruling on the matter. The indvuna said the chief stated that if the family was aggrieved, they should have come to him to report that they were not satisfied with the ruling he had issued and would approach the courts.

Furthermore, the chief wanted to know who had contacted this publication. He said unless the name of the complainant was mentioned, he would not comment on the matter. Efforts to get the ZCC preacher proved futile as his phone rang unanswered.  Ndabazabantu Godvolwendlovu, who presided over the matter, confirmed that they also issued a ruling that construction on the disputed should stop, while a resolution was being sought by the umphakatsi and the affected people.

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: Exam questions
Should exam questions be in both English and siSwati?