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Crownless ‘king’ wants precolonial land back

Author: Kwanele Sosibo

Ntsukunyane Motseki Matete (David Lebina Mofokeng), the self-styled “real king of the Basotho”, warns of an impending civil war if his “seven million people” – the Bafokeng ba-Mmutla O-Jeoa-Tala (also known as the Amavundla) – do not get what they want.

Matete says he wants land to build at least one million houses to the tune of R500-billion and restore the pride of a nation conquered in 1848 by Sir Harry Smith, the governor of the Cape, with his Orange River sovereignty proclamation. He has most of the Free State in his sights, as well as all of Lesotho. The money for the houses, he says, will be raised primarily from donations by his constituents.

Matete has a seriously spectacular claim. But for him, there are more pressing issues to overcome. The Nhlapo commission, set up by the Thabo Mbeki administration in 2004 to deal with the question of colonially endorsed traditional leaders, refused his request to have the mountain kingdom of Ntsoanatsatsi (near Vrede in the Free State) recognised.

“It was out of respect for the country’s laws that I approached the commission,” the heavy-set Matete says. “I don’t have to ask for recognition. The point was to get restoration for the kingship at Ntsoanatsatsi because it was conquered.

“In the dynasty of the Bafokeng ba-Mmutla O-Jeoa-Tala,” he says, “I am the 36th king.”

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